The Meteorite Museum

Written by on April 27, 2014 in NM Attractions - Comments Off on The Meteorite Museum

Thousands and thousands of meteors or meteoroids hit the Earth’s atmosphere every year, but only those that survive the trip through the atmosphere and reach the surface are called meteorites.

Did you know there are basically three different types of meteorites … irons, stones and stony-irons. Iron meteorites were once part of the core of a long-vanished planet or large asteroid body and are believed to have originated within the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. By far the most prominent type of meteorite is composed of stone. These once formed part of the outer crust of a planet or asteroid. The least abundant of the three types are the stony-irons, which make up less than 2% of those that have been collected. They are thought to have formed at the core/mantle boundary of their planet of origin.

Housing hundreds of meteorites, the Meteorite Museum in located in Northrop Hall on the Main Campus of the University of New Mexico is the place to learn all these facts and more about the foreign bodies that fall to our planet’s surface every day. The meteorites come from the Institute of Meteoritics, a premier research facility for study of early solar system and planetary evolution. One of the main attractions of the museum is a one-ton piece of stony meteorite that fell in Kansas in 1948.

The museum display, titled “Looking at the Solar System through a Microscope” educates visitors about how scientists learn about asteroids, comets, the Moon and Mars by studying samples that have fallen to Earth from space, as well as samples that have been collected by spacecraft missions.

Due to its dry climate, the desert southwest tends to preserve meteorites extremely well. A perfect example of this is Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona. The crater is 2.4 miles across and is the result of the impact of a meteorite traveling at 26,000 miles per hour. Meteorites that fall to the ground in the desert southwest are often easy to pick out against the beige landscape.

The Meteorite Museum’s hours change frequently, so call ahead to 505-277-4204 for dates and times.

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Other attractions in the area include:
Top 10 Things To Do In Alburquerque
Bandera Volcano and Ice Caves
Acoma Pueblo

The University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131
Phone: 505-277-4204

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