May 15

Mystery of the space rock: Where did the Fukang meteorite come from?

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The Fukang meteorite is a meteorite discovered in 2000 with an age of up to 4.5 billion years in the Gobi desert, near the city of Fukang, in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China.

Fukang meteorite is the name given to a meteorite discovered in China. The Fukang meteorite belongs to the type of iron rock meteorite known as Pallasite, which can be recognized by the chaotically arranged pieces of olivine crystals in an iron-nickel matrix. So the slices of this meteorite have a beautiful appearance, especially when illuminated from the back.

In fact, part of the Fukang Meteorite was recently auctioned off. In February 2021, that portion of the meteorite brought in sellers $30,000 – far exceeding the initial estimate of $3,500 – $4,500. So what makes the Fukang Meteor so special?

Obviously, it’s not an “ordinary meteorite”. Pallasites are an extremely rare type of meteorite. This is because most meteorites of this type burn up in the atmosphere before they can hit the ground. It is estimated that only about 1% of the Pallasites that fall to Earth can be preserved when falling to the surface of the Earth. As such, the Fukang Meteorite is often hailed as one of the greatest meteorite discoveries of the 21st century.

The Fukang meteorite was discovered near the town of Fukang in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in northwest China. The meteorite was discovered in 2000 by an anonymous hiker. This hiker regularly stops by a giant rock for lunch. The man then became very curious about this stone, it seems to have metal and crystals inside. Because of this, he decided to break some pieces of the rock to see what was inside and send it to the United States to confirm this specimen. And the results show that this rock is a meteorite.

In February 2005, this specimen appeared at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, where DS Lauretta, Professor of Planetary Science and Cosmology at the University of Arizona (and also principal investigator of porcelain) NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission) has cloned it. Then, the remains of the 983 kg Fukang Meteorite were brought to the University of Arizona for study.

The Fukang meteorite found is a type of iron rock meteorite, known as Pallasite. This type of meteorite is made up of meteorite iron and silicate in almost equal proportions. Pallasite is characterized as a matrix of meteoric iron surrounding silicates, mainly olivine (a yellow to greenish-yellow crystal). This type of meteorite is named after Simon Peter Pallas, a German physician and naturalist who first described the Krasnojarsk Pallasite meteorite in Russia in 1772.

The exact origin of the Fukang Meteorite, as well as the Pallas meteorites, has so far not been scientifically explained. However, it is speculated that they originated from an asteroid with a melted and decomposed metal core and an olivine mantle around it. The Fukang meteorite is thought to have formed when the solar system was born about 4.5 billion years ago.

In addition to its rarity, the Fukang Meteorite, like other Pallasites, is an object that possesses an extremely ghostly appearance. When light hits the Fukang Meteorite’s slices, it passes through the olivine crystals, giving the meteorite a gravitational sheen.

Because of this breathtaking beauty, collectors have always wanted to own slices of the Fukang Meteorite. The largest part of this meteorite, weighing 419.5 kg, is currently held by an unnamed collector/collector group. In 2008, this largest part of the meteorite was auctioned at Bonham’s, New York with a starting price of about 2 million USD.

However, because its price was too expensive, no one participated in that auction. But small slices of this meteorite are sold in auctions and distributed around the world. For example, the Southwest Meteorite Laboratory of the University of Arizona has a total of approximately 31 kilograms of meteorites that have come from the Fukang Meteorite.


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Fukang, space rock


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