Meteorites are the chunks of meteors that have hurtled through Earth’s atmosphere and landed/crashed on the ground. There are three types of meteorites: stone, iron and stony-iron, and once they’re in science labs to be studied, they need to be handled super-carefully. The Smithsonian’s meteorite lab shows us exactly how carefully!
This is a big issue. We study meteorites to learn things about what has happened and is happening outside our own planetary system. If, in the process of that, we end up covering the samples with the detritus of Earth, then the message gets muddled. If you’re studying a meteorite, you want to be reasonably sure that you’re not accidentally studying dust or bacteria from this planet. Clean rooms like the one in this video make it easier to examine these samples in a way that is less destructive.
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