Shooting stars are the worst nightmare of a neat freak. While being a magnificent sight, heaps of their dying ashes—tiny dust grains are known as micrometeorites—litter our world every year.
However, until recently, researchers were unable to precisely measure how messed up things were.
Shooting stars are a neat freak’s worst nightmare.
Though their dying ashes—tiny dust grains known as micrometeorites—are a beautiful sight, they clutter our planet every year. Researchers were unable to accurately quantify how fucked up things were until recently.
After excavating thousands of micrometeorites in the center of Antarctica, a team of cosmochemists has finally found a solution.
A group of cosmochemists has eventually found a solution after digging up thousands of space debris in the heart of Antarctica.
What is the source of all this space dust, anyway? The astrological cloud—a shroud of interstellar dust enveloped between the inner planets—is found in our solar system. The Earth catches (literally) loads of tiny particles as it passes through this dusty curtain, which gravity draws to our planet’s surface. When they hurtle through our air, some of them catch fire, resulting in those lucky wish makers.
However, since all of the activity on Earth produces a lot of dust, measuring only space dust is difficult. That is why scientists traveled to Antarctica.
Even so, calculating only space dust is complicated since all human activity creates a lot of dust. It is for this purpose that scientists have traveled to Antarctica.
“Central Antarctica is a desert,” says the narrator.
As a result, it’s entirely isolated,” says Jean Duprat, a cosmochemist at France’s Sorbonne University. This means there isn’t much “normal” or “terrestrial” dust to confuse things.
According to him, the frozen wasteland is flat and dry, devoid of color and odors.
Duprat and Cecile England, a cosmochemist from Paris-Saclay University, went to Antarctica around two decades ago to look for this celestial trash. They recently collaborated on a new report that reports that over 5,000 metric tonnes of micrometeorites reach Earth per year.
That’s the size of around 25 to 30 blue whales, the world’s largest mammals. The figure isn’t particularly shocking, but scientists have struggled to get a precise figure until now.
Space debris is difficult to find in most parts of the world due to dirt, rain, and other factors, but it’s almost impossible to determine how many fall in a stated amount of time.
Dirt, fog, and other factors make it challenging to locate micrometeorites in most parts of the planet, and it’s almost impossible to calculate how many fall in a given time. Fortunately, the pristinely barren, frozen stretches of inland Antarctica are the ideal location to search.
Micrometeorites become stuck in subsequent stages of snowfall because the temperature never rises above zero.
Since the temperature never rises above freezing, micrometeorites get trapped in successive layers of snowfall.
Researchers are digging under the surface to look back in time, just as tree rings do.
By scooping out several layers of frozen micrometeorites, they can measure how many micrometeorites fell in a given period.
As researchers dig under the surface, they’re looking back in time, just like a tree’s rings. They can calculate how many micrometeorites fall in a given time by scooping out multiple layers of frozen micrometeorites.
“This is a very good piece of systematic research, and it’s a significant finding. It’s just helping us understand what’s hitting us,” says Larry Nittler, a cosmochemist at the Carnegie Science Center who studies meteorites and space dust but was not involved in the research.
Researchers drilled several meters into the snow and ice near the French and Italian CONCORDIA station in Antarctica during the expeditions. They hauled the snow back to base in large plastic containers, then melted the snow and washed out the cosmic dust, making sure to eliminate any contaminants.
Finally, they returned to a lab with the filtered space dustbins to examine their catch.
They discovered over 2,000 individual space debris of various types. Unmelted meteorites, which are wonky shaped and blurry in appearance, and “cosmic spherules,” which get extremely hot when blazing through the Earth’s atmosphere at high speeds, were the two forms they discovered.
“Those that go faster get fully melted,” says Nittler. According to England, researchers are still unsure why certain particles melt, whereas others are barely warmed by their passage through the atmosphere, even though larger particles move faster.
Between 1920 and 1980, the Antarctic space debris dug up by Duprat and his colleagues was trapped in the snow. Per year, about 8.6 micrograms (millionths of a gram) of snow fell in one square meter of snow, according to the researchers. They then multiplied this amount by the surface area of the entire Earth to calculate how many tonnes of micrometeorites strike us per year since space dust spreads reasonably uniformly across the world.
The authors believe that most of the micrometeorites originated from icy comets in the Kuiper belt, rather than rocky asteroids, supporting the theory that the zodiacal cloud is constantly replenished by passing comets. Unless, according to Nittler, new strange data from the Juno space probe pans out, implying that zodiacal dust is coming from Mars instead, which he says “makes no sense.”