Every austral summer, a group of volunteers heads off to a remote region of Antarctica to set up a field camp on the ice. For the next month, they search the ice and nearby glacial moraines for dark rocks that might be extraterrestrial in origin. Research scientist Christine Floss describes this year’s trip, which included a record-setting day.
This August, a consortium of 65 scientists announced in the journal Science that they have so far found seven probable but not confirmed interstellar dust specks in a collector returned to Earth by the Stardust spacecraft in 2006. Undergraduate students at Washington University in St. Louis found three of the seven specks of dust.
Scientists working at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered two tiny grains of silica (SiO2; the most common constituent of sand) in meteorites that fell to earth in Antarctica. Because of their isotopic composition these two grains are thought to be pure samples from a massive star that exploded before the birth of the solar system, perhaps the supernova whose explosion is thought to have triggered the collapse of a giant molecular cloud, giving birth to the Sun.