Friday, 28 April 2017

The Mysterious Fukang Meteorite

When it slammed into the surface of Earth, there was little sign of the beauty that lay inside, because cutting the Fukang meteorite open yielded a breathtaking sight. Within the rock, translucent golden crystals of a mineral called olivine gleamed among a silvery honeycomb of nickel-iron. In China in 2000, the mysterious fukang meteorite, unearthed believed to be some 4.5 billion years old, which is as ancient as Earth itself. It is a pallasite, a type of meteorite with translucent golden crystals of a mineral called olivine embedded in a silvery honeycomb of nickel-iron. It’s a dazzling meteorite, and maybe the most spectacular extraterrestrial piece of rock man has ever seen. This majestic Fukang meteorite was found by a hiker, who had often stopped and had lunch on this giant rock, and he always questioned what the metal and crystals were. Eventually he decided and took a hammer and chisel and broke some pieces off, which he sent to the USA to confirm that it was a meteorite.

The original meteorite weighted just over a 1,000 kilogram, but the rock was so dazzling that everybody wanted a piece of it. Since then it has been divided into dozens of thin slices and auctioned or distributed around the world. Therefore, a total of 31 kilograms of specimen is on deposit at University of Arizona. Marvin Kilgore of the University of Arizona's Southwest Meteorite Centre holds the largest portion weighing at 420 Kg. In Feb 2005 saw the Chinese space rock transported all the way to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, in Tucson, Arizona. The U.S. lab claims their polished slice of the original meteorite is the world's biggest pallasite cross section, measuring 36in by 19in.

In 2008, this piece was expected to fetch $2 million at an auction at Bonham's in New York, but unluckily, the likely bidders were more impressed with a couple of pieces of 130-million-year-old fossilized dinosaur’s dung that day, which sold at more than twice the estimate. According to Bonhams, pallasites are composed of approximately 50 % olivine and peridot crystals and 50 cent nickel-iron, and believed to be the relics of forming planets. They actually make up less than one per cent of meteorites, and believed to originate from deep inside intact meteors formed during the formation of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago and very few specimens are thought to have survived their descent through Earth's atmosphere.

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