Category Archives: meteorites

ESA: Space artist nominated for a prestigious prize

Artist Katie Paterson‘s re-cast meteorite, which was returned to space for a visit, has put her on the short list for a major prize:

Space artist nominated for prestigious prize 

23 April 2015Katie Paterson’s ESA-supported work Campo del Cielo, Field of the Sky – which included a symbolic return to space for a chunk of meteorite – has been shortlisted for the International Prize for Contemporary Art, granted by the Foundation Prince Pierre de Monaco.

Inspired by dreams of space exploration, Scottish artist Katie Paterson, then based in Berlin, imagined sending a piece of her meteorite artwork back to space in a celebration of science, art and human technology.

Gerst_with_meteorite_node_full_image_2[1]ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst with the
Campo del Cielo, Field of the Sky
meteorite fragment
on the International Space Station.

In 2014, ESA helped to make this a reality, when a fragment of the original 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite that comprises Campo del Cielo, Field of the Sky, was taken to the International Space Station inside the Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle.

Campo comprises a sample of meteorite that crashed into our planet over 4000 years ago. The artist made a cast of the object, arranged to have it melted in a furnace at 1700°C and then recast into a copy of its original self.

Katie_Paterson_node_full_image_2[1]Katie Paterson (Credit: Bjørvika Utvikling
by Kristin von Hirsch, 2014.)

The work, which has been displayed at events and galleries in Europe, presents curious visitors with a newly formed yet still ancient meteorite, imbued with cosmic history.

“The iron, metal and dust inside have been reformed, and the layers of its cosmic lifespan – the intermixing of space and time, the billions of years of pressure and change – have become collapsed, transformed and then, by the hand of human technology, renewed,” she says.

Now, Katie’s work is one of the three nominees for the Prix International d’Art Contemporain / International Contemporary Art Prize, which is awarded every three years for a recent work by an artist at the forefront of their practice.


Campo del Cielo meteorite

“I am really pleased to have been nominated for this tremendous prize, which demonstrates the value of testing the intersection of art and science,” says Katie.

“I am delighted that my vision of combining art with spaceflight was achieved with assistance from the engineers and scientists at the European Space Agency.”

In October 2013, Katie visited ESA’s ESTEC technical heart in the Netherlands to deliver a 680 g fragment of her Campo work. There, it was coated with protective paint by materials experts for delivery to the International Space Station, and was launched aboard ESA’s fifth and final ATV cargo ferry, Georges Lemaître, in July 2014.

The fragment was stowed inside ATV-5 for undocking and a destructive reentry over the Pacific on 15 February 2015, giving it the rare distinction – for a meteor – of having entered Earth’s atmosphere twice.

“ESA can be proud that we contributed to the success of this project,” says Fernando Doblas, ESA’s Head of Communication.

“It shows how artists and scientists mutually inspire each other’s work. Indeed, it demonstrates that imagination is a critical part of science and space exploration.”

Established in 1965, the Prize has been organised by The Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco since 1983. In recent years, it has been awarded to artists of international repute, each nominated by a leading art world professional.

The long history of the Black Beauty from Mars

Here’s the marvelous story behind the Black Beauty Mars meteorite : A castaway from ancient Mars –  Science/AAAS.

Piatek sent the stone to Agee, who wasn’t convinced that it was a meteorite at all. It didn’t have the heft of a chondrite, which are typically rich in dense metals. And the scaly skin—the “fusion crust” that forms on the superheated surface of a falling meteorite—seemed so shiny that it might be fake. “I thought someone had taken a desert stone and spray-painted it,” Agee says. Nonplussed, he stuck the rock on a shelf for a few months. Eventually, in the fall of 2011, he took a diamond-tipped rock saw, sliced off one end of the stone—and marveled at what he saw inside. Dark, angular crystals of pyroxene floated alongside white, chunky feldspars. Large, faint pebbles sat next to tiny, dark beads. It was evocative of the lunar breccias Agee recalled from the Apollo days—except that Black Beauty’s spherules were much more diverse.

Agee now knew he had a meteorite, but what was it? He chipped off a gram piece and put it under an electron microprobe, which uses an electron beam to excite atoms in the rock’s minerals. The atoms then emit x-rays that reveal the sample’s chemical makeup. It turned out that the rock had an elevated manganese-to-iron ratio—higher than that in Earth rocks and consistent with other martian meteorites. Next, Agee and his colleagues used a laser to extract water molecules trapped within minerals in the meteorite and fed them into a mass spectrometer to calculate the ratio of deuterium, a heavy isotope of hydrogen, to ordinary hydrogen. Every place in solar system has a distinctive ratio. Lo and behold, the copious water in Black Beauty was Mars-like.

See also Researchers Identify Water Rich Meteorite Linked To Mars Crust – NASA –


Designated Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, and nicknamed “Black Beauty,”
the Martian meteorite weighs approximately 11 ounces (320 grams). Credit: NASA

Christes auction of rare meteorites

Christes is holding an online auction (Nov.11-25) of 30 gorgeous meteorites. Check out the galleries:

A sampling:


A Seymchan Meteorite Sphere
Discovered in Russia, 1967; Modern cutting.


A Partial Slice of Imilac Meteorite
Discovered in the Atacama Desert, Chile, 1822; Modern Cutting.

NYR_10887_0022[1]A Gibeon Meteorite Sphere
Discovered in Namaland, Namibia, 1836.
Re-worked into a sphere more recently.

Early asteroid impacts provided metals for today’s mines

The famous nickel mine at Sudbury in Ontario, Canada was created by a huge asteroid that hit the spot over 1.8 billions ago. It left an impact crater known as the Sudbury Basin. Such asteroid impacts provided most of the heavy metals accessible to mines because most of the metals in the earth settled into the core of the planet: Rare Earth – Brian Koberlein –

… fortunately Earth was also bombarded by meteors in its early history, and this made mining practical in two ways. The first is that asteroids and meteors themselves contain vast quantities of heavy metals. By some estimates, a single mile-wide asteroid could contain twenty trillion dollars worth of precious metals. Since most of the asteroid bombardments occurred after Earth’s crust formed, these metals were deposited near Earth’s surface, making them easier to obtain. There is some evidence that most of accessible heavy metals are extraterrestrial in origin due to this process.

The second is due to large impacts such as Sudbury. With large impacts, part of the Earth’s crust are melted. As a result, deposited material then settles in layers as it re-cools. Heavier elements settle at the bottom of the crater, while lighter ones settle near the top. As a result, heavy metals are concentrated at the bottom layer of the crater, producing rich veins of ore. Impacts can also create other useful byproducts, such as impact diamonds and pockets of oil. Chicxulub crater (caused by the famous dinosaur extinction asteroid) near the Gulf of Mexico is a region with plentiful oil deposits, for example.

Here’s a nicely made video describing the formation of the Sudbury basin:

Space arts: David A. Hardy + Meteorite remade + Mars as art

Space artist David A. Hardy is interviewed about his lifelong involvement in space art : Our Dreams of Space Are Fueled by the Art of David A. Hardy – Motherboard.

Proxima Planet
by David A. Hardy


The European ATV cargo vessel that arrived at the International Space Station today carried a “a hand-sized re-formed meteorite by Katie Paterson, which will become the first artwork aboard the International Space Station”


Check out this big collection of beautiful Mars photos: Mars As Art – Mars Exploration Program.