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Q & A: magnetic meteorites

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Most recent answer: 04/08/2011
Q:
I have heard that meteor dust has iron in it and that it is possible to pick it up with a magnet from the ground. Is this true and how powerful of a magnet would I need?
- John Davis (age 42)
Nebo, North Carolina, United States of America
A:
The rocks that make it to the Earth's surface are called meteorites. Fortunately, the better part of one of them is sitting on my mantelpiece, thanks to an astrophysical father-in-law. An ordinary refrigerator magnet is fairly strongly attracted to it. My guess is that with a good Alnico horseshoe magnet you could collect some of the meteorite dust.

Mike W.

(published on 06/28/2008)

Follow-Up #1: what to do with meteorite

Q:
I think I have foune a magnetic meteorite, it has what appears to be a fusion crust, flight marks it is smooth, and a small refrigerator magnet will stick to it's surface except where there are small white rocks fused into the rock. it is heavier than the granite rocks in my yard. Who should I contact from the university about this rock?
- Daniel T. Disabat0 (age 61)
Tinley Park, IL, Cook County
A:
Here at UIUC, one our best-known geologists, Sue Kieffer, does some work on meteorites/

I'd contact her,, and see if she has suggestions.

Mike W.

(published on 04/08/2011)

Follow-up on this answer.