Researchers Matthias Van Ginneken from the ULB and Steven Goderis from the VUB collected around 30,000 to 50,000 micrometeorites during their last expedition to the Antarctic. Their expedition lasted from the 12th to the 26th of February. It was part of the BELAM project (Belgian Antarctic Meteorites). It apparently exceeded all the scientist’s expectations.
The two Belgian researchers were based at the Princess Elizabeth station. They explored the Sor Rondane mountain range, looking for meteorites with a diameter of 2 millimetres or less. “We were very lucky with the weather, which meant we were able to be out in the field constantly”, says Steven Goderis. “We sometimes needed to melt the ice to get to the rocks. We also collected samples of the ice we melted to collect the micrometeorites imprisoned within it”.
Micrometeorites help us to understand our solar system as they contain a different type of information and sometimes have a different composition to bigger rocks. They can help with the discovery of unknown asteroids. Researchers also hope to learn more about the origin and transport of cosmic dust in the central parts of our solar system, such as the physical and chemical changes the micrometeorites go through when they enter the atmosphere. Nearly 40,000 tonnes of extra-terrestrial material lands on our planet every year.