Update on my hunt for Micrometorites

Forums Meteors Update on my hunt for Micrometorites

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    Tracey Snelus

    At the start of January I started my background research and hunting for micrometeorites. I used advice that is given on the Project Stardust web page and purchased a book titled ” On the trail of Stardust” by  Jon Larsen. The book gives some great advice on how to start and techniques to us along with pages and pages of identification. 

    As previously mentioned I have a water butt at home that has been collecting rain water from the roof for over 15 years so I decided to start there. Having bought a fishing magnet and attaching it to string I placed the magnet into the water butt lowered it to the base and pulled out a lot of magnetic material. Most of it was very clearly metal flakes and debris. I washed the findings and filtered the water off using coffee filter paper and then left it to dry out overnight.

    The next day I sifted the material using a fine meshed sieve onto white paper. Using a geologist loupe x10 mag I started looking through. I did find some spherules, these spherules stuck out like a sore thumb. They were spherules, shiny and looked black rather than the rusted appearance of some of the other debris. Using a dampened toothpick I collected the spherules and put them aside. 

     Not being happy with that, I knew my curiosity would have got the better of me so thankfully I also recently purchased a microscope so off I went to take a look and to try to take some images. See attached. 

    Interestingly these spherules can be man made so really knowing whether I have air pollutant, firework debris, road traffic dust, or a micrometeorite is going to take some expert knowledge and probably further chemical analysis. I am currently seeking any university labs that help with citizen science projects that might be willing to entertain me for a while. 

    I thought I would share my findings and possibly someone may know how o identify these as Micrometeorite or just a bit of metal.

    Martin Lewis

    What an interesting project Tracy. Very keen to hear how you get on. Might be able to do some EDX elemental analysis along with our next sample run in a few weeks if you can wait that long. Not sure on interpretation though.  EDX will tell you what elements are there in the first few microns of the skin.


    David Strange

    Great work Tracey! You need one of these! The Sky at Night team brought along a portable electron microscope to the Norman Lockyer Observatory a few years ago and found a micrometeorite on our roof. A bit smaller than yours I guess, about 20 micron in size!


    Tracey Snelus

    I have been looking to find a university that would be able to offer additional analysis. If this is something that you are able to help with I would be incredibly interested and it would be nice to know whether I have a micrometeorite or not! 

    Tracey Snelus

    I am rather amazed at the portable electron microscope. Very pleased that you found one on the day. I’d love to know with certainty whether what I have are micrometeorites or not. 


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