Why It is Dangerous to Look at Meteorite Samples to Guestimate What Space Rocks are Made Of

Many asteroids are considered very porous rock piles and many comets are made of mostly ice, or loosely connected debris, at least this is what we think, or what the astronomers and scientists tell us that is. Even though we’ve visited or flown nearby asteroids with space craft in the past taking high-definition pictures, does not mean we are sure what they are made out of – likewise, trailing a comet and collecting debris from its tail doesn’t tell you what all its made of either.

Worse, let’s not be naïve to think that samples of meteorites found here, our moon, or even on Mars tell the whole story either – and yes, it does matter. Consider if you will a loosely connected large asteroid might break up into 10,000 pieces if it hits our atmosphere at a shallow incline. Yes, some of those pieces will make it to the surface of Earth without burning up as they enter our atmosphere.

If a comet made mostly of ice came apart and skipped off our atmosphere in the past, then all we have is water now to show for it, and maybe if one hit us, anything in the center maybe at the bottom of the Ocean now, in which case it’s buried under sediment now, perhaps a 100 million years of sediment? In fact, since most of our surface is covered with water, we would most likely not have found it at all. If one fell on Earth, the crater could have been buried as well, with vegetation and soil above it now.

In an interesting paper entitled; “Asteroid Density, Porosity, and Structure,” by D. T. Britt, D. Yeomans, K. Housen, and G. Consolmagno – it was stated that: “Analysis of density trends suggests that asteroids are divided into three general groups: (1) asteroids that are essentially solid objects, (2) asteroids with macroporosities ~20% that are probably heavily fractured, and (3) asteroids with macroporosities >30% that are loosely consolidated “rubble pile” structures.”

Why is this important? Well, consider if you will a large asteroid headed for Earth and discovered in advance long enough to do something about it. The macro-porosity is paramount, and so is the micro-porosity for understanding how well it will break apart, and we know that asteroids are not guaranteed to be of equal consistency throughout.

Why do I mention this? Because our think tank is working on solutions to defeat the next big rock that could make humans extinct, and we need to know what we are dealing with, and just looking at rock samples here on Earth, well, that might assist in guessing, but that doesn’t give us the whole answer. Please consider all this.

Additional Reference:

“The density and porosity of meteorites from the Vatican collection,” by GJ Consolmagno and DT Britt, published in the Journal of Meteoritics & Planetary Science, vol. 33, no. 6, pp. 1231-1241. (BC: 1998M&PS…33.1231C).

Source by Lance Winslow

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