Tyler Junior College

Record meteorite on display at science center

Published Wednesday, 16th November 2011

Record meteorite on display at science center

Tyler Junior College is hosting a visitor from outer space.

Weighing in at 1,430 pounds, the world’s largest oriented pallasite meteorite fell to Earth about 10,000 years ago and was excavated from a field in rural Kansas in October 2005.

The Brenham meteorite, named for the Kansas town where it was found, is on display through May 2012, at the Center for Earth & Space Science Education at Tyler Junior College.

When meteorites enter the earth's atmosphere, they may be traveling at speeds as high as 17 miles per second. Some meteorites break up under the force of atmospheric pressure, while others spin as they approach the surface of our planet. Very few meteorites maintain the same orientation as they burn through the atmosphere and acquire a conical, rounded or bullet-shape as a result of melting and ablation. These shield or rocket nose-shaped meteorites are extremely rare, and are described as "oriented."

Pallasites are an extremely rare class of meteorite, accounting for only about 1 percent of all known meteorites. Pallasites are packed with translucent crystals of olivine (the semi-precious gemstone peridot) suspended in a nickel-iron matrix, and are thought to have formed at the core/mantle boundary of an ancient celestial body.

The Brenham meteorite is the largest pallasite ever recovered in the United States, and the largest oriented pallasite in history.

Following its stay at the TJC science center, the meteorite will embark on a world tour beginning in Australia and will likely not be on view again in the United States for another 10 years.

For more information on the Center for Earth & Space Science at TJC, go to www.tjc.edu/cesse.

Elise Mullinix


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