The meteorite that the researchers found (Photo: EurekAlert / Courtesy of Maria Valdes)
A team of scientists managed to find five meteorites in Antarctica, including a space rock weighing almost 8 kilograms.
The team included a researcher from the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History, Maria Valdes, who estimated that of the 45,000 meteorites discovered to date in the frozen wilderness of Antarctica, only about 100 meteorites were as large as the huge meteorite found.
Antarctica, the fifth largest continent in the world and the coldest place on Earth, most of it is covered with ice.
Now, imagine how hard it is to find a meteorite in the frozen wasteland.
"Size doesn't necessarily matter when it comes to meteorites, and even tiny micrometeorites can be incredibly scientifically valuable," Valdes said.
"However, finding such a large meteorite is rare and very exciting."
The team, headed by Vincent Devaille - a planetary scientist at the Université Libre de Brussels (FNRS-ULB) in Belgium, is the first to study new potential meteorite sites that have been mapped using satellite images.
"It's very exciting to go on an adventure and explore familiar areas, but we had to face the fact that the reality on the ground is much more difficult than it appears in the satellite images," said Debaille.
The team planned their journey for the Antarctic summer period at the end of December, but temperatures in the region were still very low, hovering around minus 10 degrees Celsius.
According to Valdes, in some areas Antarctica was warmer than Chicago, but the research team suffered from the cold because they spent a lot of time outdoors - the scientists rode snowmobiles, hiked ice fields and slept in tents.
The team planned their journey for the Antarctic summer period at the end of December - this is what it looks like (Photo: Courtesy of Maria Valdes)
Despite the harsh conditions, Antarctica is one of the best places in the world to find meteorites.
The continent is a desert with a dry climate, which reduces the wear and tear experienced by meteorites.
Also, thanks to the white snowy landscape, the black meteorites can be more easily spotted.
The conditions in Antarctica even make it possible to discover meteorites that may have sunk under the snow and ice.
This is because the movement of glaciers moving against rock can re-expose meteorites above the surface.
Despite the enormous size of the meteorite found in this expedition, the record for the largest meteorite ever found is
reserved for the Obligate meteorite found in Namibia.
Hobba is 2.7 meters long, 270 centimeters wide and weighs about 66 tons - that is, it is 7,765 times heavier than the recently discovered Antarctic meteorite.
The large space rock and other meteorites found by the researchers will now be analyzed at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, while team members will study sediment samples collected from Antarctica.
"Meteorite research helps us better understand our place in the universe," says Valdes.
"The larger sample of meteorites we have, the better we can understand our solar system, and the better we can understand ourselves."