Monday, August 25, 2008

In Search Of Micrometeorites


The above image is what they call a micrometeorite, I snapped a pic of it at 400x with the Celestron LCD Digital Microscope. Tons of these things fall from space daily, some in your backyard, you have probably been hit by one, they are very cool, again you are looking at something from space that is a remnant from the building blocks of our solar system, some 4.5 billion years ago.

You too can be the proud owner of one of these, how do you go about collecting your own? well the best places to look are where they are most likely to gather, as they come down from space they for example land on your roof and are washed into your eavestrough by the rain and down to your downspout, those are great places to look, I've found many in those places.


Or you can put out a piece of paper for a few hours in your backyard and check it out later to see if there are any micrometeorites on it, now they are kind of small, anywhere from around 25-350 microns, a hair for example is 50-70 microns, but the good news, the metal micrometeorites are made up of iron or nickel or both so they are attracted to a magnet, just take a magnet out, run it over the paper and anything that sticks to it is a candidate to be a micrometeorite.


The above image is a 10x20 ft poly sheet I left out overnight on top of the mall roof I work at, came back in the morning carefully brushed off the debris into a large pail, and took the pail back to as I like to call it, the micrometeorite lab in my basement, I found the micrometeorite in the top image on this poly.


Up until now that's about as far as I was able to go, now with the microscope I'm able to actually see the round metal micrometeorite up close and personal, to see the scaring and pitting caused by the interaction with our atmosphere as the micrometeorite is falling to the ground.


The next step is to weed out stuff that may not be a micrometeorite, I do this with the help of my handy dandy Wal-Mart light magnifier combo, after all microscope time is expensive,..... not really just like saying that, through the magnifier I see a couple of possible not micrometeorites. After I remove them, I rub a small screwdriver back and forth on the magnet to magnetize it, then rub the screwdriver on the particles in question that may be micrometeorites, then it's off to the microscope.

Now you'll notice I've taken many pics to guide you though the complex procedure just in case you want to collect your own micrometeorites, but there is one pic I didn't manage to get....... the look on my Wife's face as she happened upon my lab while I was working my way through the dirt to find micrometeorites, if looks could kill, I'd be a dead man.

Wife " What .....are.....you.....doing?"

Me " Collecting micrometeorites"

I think she is cool with it now, I mean after I explained what a micrometeorite was and showed her some pics. I'll leave you with a video I took just after I found the above micrometeorite, just to show you what stuff looks like under a microscope, every thing is at 100x, usually do 100x, wide angle, then when I think I've found something I go up to 400x.

51 comments:

Roger said...

Bob good stuff with micrometeorite, your always coming up with the goods!

Swubird said...

Bob:

I just finished reading your post about the micrometeorites, and it was the coolest thing I've ever seen. And that microscope with the 3" LCD screen is fantastic. I thought it was so great that I even made my wife watch the video. She kept asking What's that? What's that? And then she saw the microspheres and it took her breath away. I told her I'd like to have one of those things, so we could look at some micrometeorites. But she said that was silly. We could just look at your micrometeorites!

But not to despair. She bought me a new gadget too. I read your post while sitting in bed with my brand new Ausus 10" 1000H Eee Pc. It has a small keyboard, but other than that, it's great. Since I'm not a high speed typist, it really doesn't matter. My unit came with XP, and 80 gigabytes. Cost $549 out the door from one of Amazon's sellers. I take it with me on the road, bookstores, libraries, writing in the car, etc.

Another great post Bob. Good job.

Happy trails.

Ruth said...

Who knew! You are a good teacher.

Maybe we can train one of Don's chickens to run around and say 'the sky is falling! the sky is falling!'

Susanne49 said...

SUPER post again, Bob! I enjoyed everything, reading and watching. Thanks for sharing.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Bob,

Now I have seen it all. You have space trained to come to you at work. :D I'll be on the lookout for micrometeorites and won't just worry about the birds flying overhead. :D

An AMAZING post...super content. LOVED the images.

Hugs, JJ

Sherer said...

Bob,

That was a great post! I may begin my own search for micrometeorites. I laughed pretty hard about the part when you wife came in and found you looking for them. (looking for micrometeorites is not a crime!)

Kind of reminds me, last saturday we went up for a little gathering in the mountians to view the milkyway and get some good telescopic views only to get chased out by some angry hill people! This astronomy stuff is getting dangerous

kml said...

I am sure my husband is going to think I'm wacky - but I can't wait to try it. He has got a great little magnifier that should show them really well - I'm off with my paper!

Marvin the Martian said...

I always think about micrometeorites when I clean my gutters. I'm glad you brought it up! Someone else is obsessed BESIDES me. It's very comforting. LOL!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Roger, glad you like the micrometeorite stuff.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, thanks swubird, glad you like the video, hey the sub notebook is very cool, take them anywhere, even bed, must have just got it, weren't they just released?\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol about training the chicks, thanks Ruth, and you are right, who knew, it's amazing what is out there.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Susanne, glad you are liking the posts.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JJ, hey if you can't get to space it's always nice when it comes to you,lol, good luck with the birds.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, thanks Jesse, I think my wife thinks I'm a little off, especially with buying up Lunar and Martian property,lol.

I hear you about the crazy hill people, trouble with our hobby is we have to go to to some off the road places in the dark to get the best views, this usually leads to some wacky situations, at least everything went well for you and the crazy hill people let you get away,lol.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Very cool Kathy, good luck with that, I'm sure your husband will go with the flow when he sees the first micrometeorite, ever need any help or suggestions just email me or leave a comment.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol marvin, sometimes it's lonely out in space, nice to see or hear of a fellow micrometeorite guy.\m/\m/

Peter said...

Hi! Innocent looking things but I'd imagine they could pose a problem for astronauts that go out for a walk in space.

Next time I see my neighbours up on the roof looking at their gutters, I can tell my wife what they're really up to!

Take Care,
Peter

Swubird said...

Bob:

Yeah, just released the 10-inch. They've had the 7-inch on the market for a long time, and I guess it did very well. Then the other computer manufacturers got into the picture: HP, ACER, MSI, etc., so Ausus upped their game to a 8.9-inch. The others followed suit. But I held out for a larger keyboard, and more memory. Finally, Ausus released the 10-inch, but the price tag came in at around $678. Stiff. So I waited. Then one day I saw an ad on Amazon for $549, so I jumped on it! Like I said, the keyboard is small, but usable. The main problem, however, is that the touch pad doesn't disable when you plug in the mouse. Pain! All in all it's a neat little gadget, but after reading your post this morning, and seeing that little microscope with the LCD screen, now that is cool!

Happy stargazing.

Bob Johnson said...

Lol Peter, my neighbours have already asked me what I have been doing, they weren't expecting the micrometeorite answer though,lol.

Good point about micrometeors in space, they are a hazard , not a deadly hazard but they do damage to satellites, spacecraft and spacesuits.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

I see the 10" is what you have and it was just released not too long ago and wow great price, I see you are a gadget guy like me,lol, I've had microscopes before but not like this one, love that tech is getting better all the time, love the view screen and the ability to take pics and movies, got a cool movie a couple days ago of what I thought was a micrometeorite, was actually an egg of something, saw it inside moving around, creepy cool,lol.\m/\m/

Priyank said...

oh wow, who would have thought...! Nice stuff.

self taught artist said...

unbelievably cool
i'll have you know last night i went out for a walk with tod and it was dark and beautiful and i brought this post up. it started a whole conversation about the night sky and things i normally would never talk about, let alone learn (tod informed me of things that i'm too embarrassed to admit i didn't know) but anyhow, thanks! you keep my brain alive :)
tell your wife you are a servant to us all!!!!

Bob Johnson said...

Hey thanks priyank, glad you like the micro world.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, thanks Paula, glad between me and Tod we're keeping your brain alive,lol.\m/\m/

Marvin the Martian said...

Bob, I thought of you when I saw this article on MSNBC about Mars' closest approach...

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/08/26/1294160.aspx?GT1=43001

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, thanks marvin, is that still going around? usually blog about it in August so people don't fall for it.

It is amazing how many people believe it's true,in reality Mars looks like a speck compared with the Moon.

Two Feathers said...

This is so awesomely cool! My grandmother, whenever she made a mistake or forgot something, would say "Oh my, one of my brain cells just died."

Now I realize that it was probably one of those pesky micrometeorites falling on her head.

So now, whenever I forget something, or make a mistake, I'll know that it isn't ME at all - it's probably just one of those micrometeorites - maybe with even a micromedia alien life form attached... so... now nothing will EVER be MY fault again!

Awesomely cool! Bob! Awesomely cool!

:blacksmile:

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, thanks Shirley, hey you know the alien guy had a laser gun, just think of the damage that he could do,lol.\m/\m/

Anna said...

Bob, now you got me curious, next thing my neighbour will be seeing me climbing the garage roof, lol. Good stuff, I may look one day...great magnification of the micrometeorites. Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anna, lol, hey the neighbours have already asked me what the hek I was doing, then even looking more confused when I tell them,lol.\m/\m/

Bill said...

Amazing. I love your site Bob. Sorry I haven't been around for awhile. Been kinda busy. Gee I've been kinda slackin for about 4 or 5 months and your blog has grown tremendously. Congrats.

Bob Johnson said...

Glad to see you around Bill and thanks for the great comment.\m/\m/

Max-e said...

I must try this. Though I did once run a magnet through a patch of sand in the bush and was surprised by the vast amount of tiny metal particles that were attached to it. I never thought that they could be micro meteorites.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi max-e, true there are a lot of things that are magnetic, thats why you really need a microscope to find the micrometeorites, they are the only magnetic thing that is perfectly round.\m/\m/

Paul said...

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Anonymous said...

A couple of things regarding removing the microspheres from your iron-rich samples (which have been gathered with a magnet):
- The samples will have become somewhat magnetized themselves after being attracted to a magnet, and the sample becomes difficult to work with under the microscope. So, the way to remove the magnetism is to heat it slowly (I do it gradually in a test tube over a small flame) to a rather high temperature, but not enough to destroy/alter the samples.
- Cooled, the de-magnetized particles can be filtered using a mesh coffee filter or fine screen. This gets rid of most over-sized metallic debris, say, > 750 microns.
- Next, using a flat tray (much like sorting out the seeds from your home-grown back in yer college days) carefully shake out the spheroids; it works like magic.

Bob: I think that most of your microspheres is actually pollution from human sources...

You might want to take a look at my picture of the day that appeared in Earth Science Picture of the Day this week (September, 28).
http://epod.usra.edu/blog/
(Really nice website you have!)
Regards - Tom F.

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