Your rooftop could be sprinkled with cosmic star dust
This segment originally aired on September 29th, 2017
The hunt for micrometeorites
Eight years ago, Jon Larsen, a jazz musician from Norway, was sitting at a table when a shiny speck of metallic dust landed in front of him. That was enough to spark his interest and to start his search for more particles, which he suspected could be extra terrestrial in origin. Mr. Larsen started contacting different scientists who study cosmic dust, otherwise known as micrometeorites, but the only one who'd take him seriously, after Mr. Larsen kept persisting, was Dr. Matthew Genge from Imperial College London. Together they were able to prove that many of the dust particles Mr. Larsen had found were, in fact, micrometeorites. Now Mr. Larsen sharing his discoveries in a new book called, In Search of Stardust - Amazing Micrometeorites and Their Terrestrial Imposters.
Why this discovery is important
Until Mr. Larsen and Dr. Genge published their paper in the journal Geology about their discovery of urban micrometeorites, nobody thought it would be possible to find them on urban rooftops. Historically, most micrometeorites have been found in places like Antarctica. Since many of the roofs where Mr. Larsen made his discoveries were new, this discovery shows that fresh micrometeorites fall down to Earth all the time.
- Paper in the journal Geology, An urban collection of modern-day large micrometeorites: Evidence for variations in the extraterrestrial dust flux through the Quaternary
- Jon Larsen's Project Stardust
What micrometeorites can teach us
The main thing we can learn from most micrometeorites, because they're mostly samples of asteroids, which date back 4.5 billion years, is they provide a unique record into the formation of our early solar system.