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Meteorite sheds light on birth of the solar system
French and Italian scientists have analysed a meteorite and discovered that it contains a unique and primordial rock fragment that is thought to have remained largely unaltered since the solar system formed around 4.6 billion years ago. The scientists believe the xenolith, which shows unprecedented isotopic variations of nitrogen, may offer insight into the solar system's formation and say it poses serious problems for current models of light element isotopic fractionation. 
Light element isotopic ratios are the result of formation mechanisms and particular physical and chemical conditions. Understanding them can therefore help determine whether extraterrestrial materials formed in the solar nebula - the giant molecular cloud that is thought to have given rise to the solar system - or whether they predate the solar nebula and were formed in other environments.
Giacomo Briani and colleagues measured the light element isotopic ratios of hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen in the xenolith, called PX-18.

"This inclusion  is really a very primordial inclusion and it has conserved some memory of the primordial nebula. It's by studying this object that we can understand our solar system forming" - Giacomo Briani at the Laboratory of Mineralogy and Astrochemistry in the French Museum of Natural History, Paris.

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Geologists from the department of earth and planetary sciences, Allahabad University, have initiated a study of the samples of all the meteorites which fell on the Indian sub-continent during the past seven years, starting from 2001. The study, being undertaken by a team led by JK Pati, former head of the department, is expected to unfold the mystery of these meteorites and may be useful in understanding the complex process of the formation of planets and the solar system.

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Meteorites provide valuable information about the early history of the solar system. A group of Swiss geologists have conducted systematic meteorite searches in Oman since 2001, and they recently returned from their latest hunt.

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Searching for Meteorites in the Deserts of Oman
Meteorites provide valuable information about the early history of the solar system. A group of Swiss geologists have conducted systematic meteorite searches in Oman since 2001, and they recently returned from their latest hunt.
Most meteorites are fragments of asteroids, some of which contain organic matter. Some meteorites preserve information on the chemical make-up of the solar system before the planets formed. Other meteorites are impact debris from the surfaces of the Moon and Mars. Martian and lunar meteorites, which are rare, are often fragments from the past, having been knocked off into space millions or even billions of years ago.

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Although peridot usually costs between $50 and $150 per carat, when the vivid green gemstone falls to Earth embedded in a meteorite, it can fetch upward of $1,000 per carat.

"It's the only gem we have from outer space" - John Koivula, chief gemologist the Carlsbad-based Gemological Institute of America.

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Comet dust
An innovative plan to retrieve comet particles from Earth's stratosphere has hit pay dirt, with the discovery that a large percentage of grains collected during a 2003 excursion predate the formation of the solar system.

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Meteorites on the ground or icy comets millions of miles away are usually the only sources of ancient matter from the early days of the solar system.
But in a high-flying experiment, researchers have used a sort of chemical flypaper to scoop up comet dust from Earth's atmosphere - and it appears to be some of the oldest matter in our cosmic neighbourhood.

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METEORITE MUSEUM GALLERY - HAND SAMPLES

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Is This a Meteorite?
An object trouvé in my personal collection might be an iron meteorite. It is a very heavy, iron nodule of irregular size and shape. It has a rusty patina and many "regmaglypts" (thumbprints) which are tell-tale indicators of a genuine iron meteorite.

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