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”.
As a part of the meeting Impacts in Planetary Systems in Lund May 15-17, 2017, the participants were invited to a mingle session “Evening with Champagne and Hydrofluoric Acid at the Astrogeobiology Laboratory”
Among the ca. 70 minglers most were astronomers, but all with a great interest, not only in the champagne and good cheese that was served, but also our peculiar way of doing astronomy by dissolving ancient sedimentary rocks in acids.
Our lab was visited by several of the leaders in research on the evolution of the solar system and the asteroid belt based on space-based astronomical data. This opened up for many interesting discussions and much cross-disciplinary transferal of knowledge.
Note that the participants were not allowed to bring champagne or cheese into the acid laboratories!
Download the Full programme of the Impacts in the Planetary Systems meeting. programme-v1.5.2
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