Messages in a meteorites bring news from outer space (Thinkstock)
Messages in a meteorites bring news from outer space
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Meteorites may conjure images of giant rocks smashing into towns. In fact, meteorites rarely hit people. They regularly bring valuable materials to Earth from outer space.

All of the iron we use on Earth today was delivered by meteorites. Gold and platinum even have meteorite origins.

Meteorites have been hurtling to Earth since its formation. That was nearly 4.6 billion years ago, way before humans evolved. Without meteorites, our planet would be a very different place in terms of minerals available for our use.

Meteorites are valuable not only as sources of minerals. They also contain information. A meteorite is a space-time messenger from our solar system. It was chipped off an asteroid or other orbiting body. It may hang around in orbit for thousands or millions of years before getting pitched to Earth. It carries a story of events and conditions in space that are otherwise difficult to study.

Using sophisticated technology to analyze the chemistry of meteorites, scientists find materials pointing back as far as the formation of our universe. These discoveries set the stage for planning spacecraft missions. Meteorites from Mars inspired a series of missions to explore the possibility of life on the red planet.

Find out more about meteorites and the solar system by joining us on Thursday, June 25, 2015, for a Smithsonian Science How live webcast. It's titled Astrogeology: Meteorites and Spacecraft Missions, and airs at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. EDT on the Q?rius website.

Meteoriticist Dr. Tim McCoy from the National Museum of Natural History will appear live to discuss and answer questions. Get teaching resources to support your webcast experience.

Critical thinking challenge: How is a meteorite a space-time messenger?

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COMMENTS (74)
  • Rachelc-Pav
    6/12/2015 - 10:42 a.m.

    This is extremely cool, and definitely is a break in science. Hopefully the scientists are able to investigate more into the message, as well as do some more observations on it.

  • Coopers-Der
    6/12/2015 - 12:10 p.m.

    Wow! I used to think meteors were bad things, but imagine if we had no iron! We would have also had none of the information that we get from meteors!

  • Cadenc-Der
    6/12/2015 - 12:18 p.m.

    It's cool how we got all of our iron from meteorites. I never knew that gold and platinum have meteorite origins. I also didn't know that meteorites have been hurtling to earth since 4.6 billion years ago!

    • Sofiaz-Der
      6/12/2015 - 12:31 p.m.

      I didn't know that either I just wonder what will happen in the future with meteors it's kind of scary to think about it that way!

  • Norap-Der
    6/12/2015 - 12:18 p.m.

    A meteorite is a space-time messenger because it sends messages from other planets. Not messages in words but examples of what is on the planet or asteroid it came from or shows what it is like on the planet or asteroid it came from.

  • Elisan-Der
    6/12/2015 - 12:20 p.m.

    It's very fascinating to see the Meteorites hit people. The rock is very big and a lot of people say that they are very valuable. Why does the Meteorites come to earth and hit people? How big is the Meteorites?

  • JackR-5
    6/12/2015 - 12:26 p.m.

    The formation of metorites can help us learn about the Galaxy. These meteorites contain chemical information. Scientist going to analyzes to discover information. He's made a right will tell a story. Eventually maybe I want to send stories from news media rights. I think that this is very cool. The meteorites can provide us with a lot of information.

  • Josephk-Der
    6/12/2015 - 12:27 p.m.

    I like how the article explains a lot about meteorites and how they can give a lot of minerals to the world and that it was blasting into earth for about 4.6 million years ago.It was one of my favorite articles.

    • Luisv-Der
      6/12/2015 - 12:45 p.m.

      I agree with you josephk-Der. I did like how they talk about the meteorites. They talked about how big they are and that it was blasting into earth for about 4.6 million years ago.

    • Sophiap-Der
      6/12/2015 - 12:59 p.m.

      I agree. I didn't think that that is where we get all our gold, silver, and iron. That long ago! Is that when the dinosaurs roamed? If it was, then is that why the dinosaur's died?

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