NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft passed within 2200 miles of object 2014 MU69, also called “Ultima Thule”, in the Kuiper Belt 6.6 billion kilometres from Earth and 1.6 billion kilometres beyond Pluto. Ultima Thule is the most distant object ever studied up-close by humans.
At the NOVA-NASA event in connection with the flyby at New Years Eve Walter Alvarez gave a talk entitled “Studying the Solar System by looking down”.
In February 2017 we published the article Rare Meteorites Common in the Ordovician Period in Nature Astronomy. This the first empirical reconstruction of variations in the meteorite flux to Earth in deep time. We show that the meteorites falling on Earth in the Ordovician period one million years before the L-chondrite parent body breakup were very different from todays meteorites. We show that primitive achondrites that are extremely rare in today’s flux were one of the most common types of Ordovician meteorites. The article was accompanied by a News and Views item “Meteorites: A shift in shooting stars” by Francesca DeMeo at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US. Our article received much media attention, reaching an altmetric value in the top 99th percentile.
We just published completed another of our first “windows” into the meteorite flux to Earth in deep time. We extracted and analyzed 108 extraterrestrial spinels from 1652 kg of pelagic limestone from the Lower Cretaceous Maiolica Formation in the Apennines of Italy. You find the paper here: 9-2017Schmitz-Geology
In June 2016 we published the paper “A new type of solar-system research recovered from Ordovician limestone” in Nature Communications. This led to an unexpected reaction: Almost every leading daily news paper around the world highlighted the discovery of the world’s first “extinct” meteorite.
According to altmetrics value the article is now ranked as number 181 of the 271,861 tracked articles of a similar age in all journals (Sept. 18, 2017). Among the 759 tracked articles of a similar age published in Nature Communications it is ranked as number 7.
The media frenzy started after BBC wrote about our discovery. Then Nature.com highlighted our discovery at their prime space slot for a couple of days. Discover Magazine ranked our finding among the 100 most important during 2016.
Here are some of the media highlights:
New York Times: