Images © Princess Elisabeth Antarctica
The meteorite discovered at in the Nansen Ice Field, 140 km south of Princess Elisabeth and is the largest such meteorite found in the region since 1988.
The eight members of the SAMBA project, from Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) and Tokyo University were searching for meteorites scattered across the Nansen Ice Field on January 28, when they found the 18kg ordinary chondrite. The team discovered a total of 425 meteorites, with a total weight of 75kg during the 40 day expedition, at an altitude of 2,900m, 140km south of Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth Antarctica research base.
“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 Université Libre de Bruxelles, who led the Belgian team during the expedition. “This is the biggest meteorite found in East Antarctica for 25 years, so it’s a very special discovery for us, only made possible by the existence and location of Princess Elisabeth Antarctica.
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”, said Debaille. “This season’s SAMBA mission was a success both in terms of the number and weight of the meteorites we found. Two years ago, we found less than 10kg. This year, we found so much that we had to call the travel agency – because we had 75kg of meteorites to take home”.
To find out more about science at Princess Elisabeth Antarctica and life in the frozen south, visit Inside the Station – an interactive exhibition that takes visitors on a journey inside Belgium’s zero emission polar research centre – currently taking place at Tour & Taxis, Brussels.