Two Belgians collect thousands of micrometeorites in Antarctica


Over the winter, two Belgian scientists have collected up to 50,000 micrometeorites in Antarctica. Micrometeorites can help us better understand our solar system. The search took place in the Sør Rondane Mountains, near the Belgian Princess Elisabeth research base.

Micrometeorites are tiny meteorites with a diameter between ten micrometres and two millimetres. They are important as they can help scientists better understand the present and past composition of planets, asteroids and comets in our solar system. Micrometeorites can actually be found everywhere, but they occur more frequently in the cracks and crevices of the Sør Rondane Mountains, and are better preserved.

The haul brought back by Steven Goderis from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Matthias Van Ginneken of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) exceeded all expectations. This was mainly thanks to the good weather conditions, which meant that they could continue to search for a longer period of time without interruptions. The scientists will now analyse the collected micrometeorites to find out exactly where they come from and how old they are.

The expedition was part of the BELAM project (Belgian Antarctic Meteorites) of the Belgian Science Policy Office. Three earlier scientific expeditions, in collaboration with Japanese researchers, already searched for meteorites in Antarctica, but larger specimens. As such, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) has one of the largest collections in Europe.

Belgian scientists regularly carry out research in Antarctica. The Sør Rondane Mountains are not far from the Belgian Princess Elisabeth research base. Our country also has a historical connection with the continent.