Meteorite, Meteorwrong

Meteoritics: Presolar Grains

When a meteor hits the Earth, there is the possibility that it brings something very rare along with it: cosmic stardust older than our Solar System. Dr. Philipp Heck uses a combination of astronomy, geosciences and chemistry, to hunt for these presolar grains, which offer glimpses into our galaxy’s past. Presolar grains are the oldest material in the Solar System. These microscopic mineral grains formed before the birth of our Solar System and a small fraction survived in primitive asteroids and comets. Studying them can help us understand the formation of the Solar System and planet Earth.

Join Dr. Philipp Heck and his team at the Field Museum’s Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies in their quest for presolar grains.

Field Museum researchers have joined with scientists around the globe to find contemporary interstellar dust gathered by NASA’s Stardust mission launched more than a decade ago. Interstellar dust is important to study because it carries all of the most important elements in the Universe. These elements are the building blocks of life such as carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen.

The NASA spacecraft Stardust with the collector deployed. Artist's impression, credit: NASA/JPL.

Scientists all over the world are on the hunt for evidence of life in the universe. Do you think there could be life out there? What about intelligent life?

Think about what we need in order to survive. Do you think it's possible that those things exist somewhere else?

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