If I can’t go to the Moon, then the Moon jolly well had to come to me.
A long time ago, a rocky object was peacefully orbiting the Sun in the Asteroid Belt, where it had existed since the formation of the Solar System.
One day, a collision or strong gravitational event nudged it away from it’s stable trajectory and sent it into an eccentric new elliptical orbit, plunging it closer to the Sun and back out again .
The object crossed the orbit of the Earth-Moon system countless times but it’s destiny was for an eventual high speed collision to occur. Ultimately, it crashed into the Moon, forming a new crater and releasing debris from the lunar surface.
Due to the Moon’s low gravity, some of this lunar debris was totally ejected from the Moon. Some of it was sent into a trajectory which was to lead it towards Earth, probably after many orbits. After a high speed streak through the atmosphere, it landed in the Sahara Desert in North West Africa and lay there until it was discovered by meteorite hunters.
The discovery was designated NWA 11303 and authenticated as a Lunar Meteorite by the Institute of Meteoritics at The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Geoffrey Notkin, of Aerolite Meteorites Inc and co-host of the television series Meteorite Men, brought it by plane from Tucson, Arizona to Sydney, NSW – where after giving a lively talk to Macarthur Astronomical Society about his passion for meteorites, he sold it to me.
So, I am now the proud owner of a small piece of Moon rock, which was blasted off the surface of the Moon (by a meteorite from the Asteroid Belt) to become a meteorite itself, eventually landing with a thud in NW Africa and reaching my desktop via Arizona and New Mexico in the USA.
I can only speculate on how long each part of this 4,5 Billion year journey took!
My thanks to Geoff Notkin:
My new lunar meteorite now joins my modest collection of meteorites from around the world, all of which have themselves been on unique journeys through space-time since the formation of the Solar System 4.5 Billion years ago:
Images © R.Powell