Large meteorite found in Antarctica

2013-03-01 09:00
In this photo taken with a mobile phone camera, a meteorite contrail is seen in Chelyabinsk region. (Sergey Hametov, AP)

In this photo taken with a mobile phone camera, a meteorite contrail is seen in Chelyabinsk region. (Sergey Hametov, AP)

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Brussels - An international team of scientists at Belgium's Antarctica research station has found the largest meteorite in nearly 25 years, helping them to unlock the secrets of our solar system.

A statement on Thursday said scientists at Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth Antarctic research base had found a meteorite weighing 18kg on the Nansen Ice Field, part of a haul of 425 rocks with a total weight of 75kg.

"This meteorite was a very unexpected find for us, not only due to its weight, but because we don’t normally find such large meteorites in Antarctica," said Vinciane Debaille, a geologist from Universite Libre de Bruxelles who led the Belgian part of the team.

"This is the biggest meteorite found in East Antarctica for 25 years so it’s a very special discovery for us.

"We study meteorites in order to better understand how the solar system formed, how it evolved, how the Earth became such a unique planet in our solar system," Debaille added.

Meteorites are usually small, seen as "falling stars" as they burn up in the atmosphere, but earlier this month one grabbed global headlines when it came down in Russia, causing a massive shockwave which hurt 1 200 people and damaged buildings across a huge area.

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