How can I tell if the rock I found is a meteorite?
I have a rock that I think might be a meteorite. How can I tell if it is one? What should I do with it if I'm convinced it's a meteorite and want it to be tested?
My first suggestion would be to look at some web pages describing what to look for when identifying meteorites. Two good places are The Institute of Meteoritics or UCLA Cosmochemistry. These sites describe some of the types of meteorites, some common characteristics of meteorites, and common misconceptions about meteorites. Another good place to look is the Photo Gallery of Meteorwrongs at Washington University. This page has pictures of rocks with specific comments about why researchers do not believe that they are meteorites.
If you you still think you have a meteorite after looking at these pages, my advice would be to call a local university and talk to someone in their geology or astronomy departments. Not all geologists and astronomers have the experience or equipment to analyze meteorites, but you might be lucky and find someone near you who can look at it!
The other option is to send pieces of the meteorite to the addresses given on one of the above websites. These people have agreed to accept samples in the mail and will probably be able to tell you what your rock is.
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
- Was I hit by a meteorite?
- Did I find a rock that came from the Moon?
- What do meteorites tell us about life on other planets?
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 29773 times since April 28, 2002.
Last modified: June 4, 2003 9:45:59 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)