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No. 45: May-Jun 1986

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Disparity Between Asteroids And Meteorites

Since the meteorites we pick up on earth (Antarctica and elsewhere) are thought to have come from pulverized asteroids, it is something of a shock to find profound dissimilarities between asteroids and meteorites.

"The problem is that while reflectance spectra of some meteorites measured in the laboratory appear to correspond to spectra of various asteroids, the S class, which makes up about half of all asteroids in the inner belt, doesn't appear to match any common meteorite class, and conversely, common meteorite classes (e.g., Ordinary Chondrites) appear to match only a few asteroids."

(Harris, Alan W.; "Asteroid 29 Amphitrite Is a Topic of Interest," Geotimes, 30:25, June 1985.)

Comment. Note that the visual meteors or shooting stars that burn up high in the atmosphere are believed to be cometary debris (SF#44) and mostly ice and dust. The meteors large and substantial enough to make it through the atmosphere and arrive at the surface as meteorites must have a different source -- something more palpable, such as the asteroids, but the spectral disparities reported above may force a reevaluation of this theory.

From Science Frontiers #45, MAY-JUN 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987