Meteorite ALH84001 was found in 1984, lying like a chunk of black coal on the dazzling white ice wastes of the Allan Hills region of Antarctica. According to National Science Foundation geologist Roberta Score, who first picked up the meteorite and held it in her hand, it looked “kind of weird”.
Now this unassuming stone has proved to be weird indeed, but also wonderful. And certainly unlike any meteorite ever found on Earth care with him a mystery that disturbe.
Meteorite ALH84001 was cataloged, bagged, and shipped still frozen to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. There, along with a thousand other meteorite specimens, it was thawed out in a nitrogen atmosphere to maintain its uncontaminated state.
Technicians duly wrote up their descriptions of the specimen, which included the fact that the stone’s dimensions were about half that of a typical brick. That it weighed nearly two kilograms (four pounds) and that it appeared to be in pristine condition. Its description about meteorite ALH84001 was then circulated to the community of planetary scientists, who are routinely invited to request Antarctic meteorite samples for research.
For nearly a decade, Meteorite ALH84001 was not recognized as a rock from Mars. The stone remained filed-away, not much better known than it was in the Antarctic wastelands.
But this particular meteorite would soon prove to be from Mars, and it also harbored a secret that would rattle the cages of scientists everywhere. I invite you to descovery the Meteorite ALH84001 mistery followed by a verry intresting story:
Resourcess for this investigation about Meteorite ALH84001:
The Planetary Materials Curation area at Johnson Space center contains lots of information on Antarctic meteorite samples, lunar samples, cosmic dust and other interesting stuff. The Antarctic Meteorite Newsletter can be found there; a periodical published twice yearly that describes newly available Antarctic meteorite specimens.
If you have specific questions about lunar and martian meteorites you couldn’t find answers to at the Johnson Space Center, Try Washington Universities lunar meteorite site , the Mars Meteorite Compendium at JSC, or the Lunar and Planetary Institute’s page dedicated to ALH84001.
AMLAMP, the Antarctic Meteorite Location and Mapping Program, keeps a database of the sites where meteorites have been found by US researchers. Cruise the table of contents to see images of meteorite stranding surfaces in Antarctica with meteorites superimposed.
NIPR Research Program for Antarctic Meteorites is the Japanese program that leads expeditions to Antarctica to recover meteorites. The Japanese were the first to systematically collect meteorites in Antarctica, and in fact they have collected more meteorites than the US program.
Meteorite and Impacts Advisory Committee is an advisory group to the Canadian Space Agency, dealing with issues concerning impact craters, meteorites, and related phenomena.
Logistical support for Antarctic Projects is provided by Raytheon Polar Services Company, the prime contractor with the National Science Foundation.