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“It’s extremely very rare to find a record like this that spans such a long, continuous chunk of time,” says Philipp Heck, a meteorist at the Field Museum in Chicago who was not involved in the new study.
The team also found that the type of meteorite that fell on the Atacama changed over the time period studied.
“It’s an interesting and important result that they found an overabundance of H chondrites between 1 and 0.5 million years ago,” Heck says.
“When one type of meteorite dominates, it’s most likely related to an event such as a collision that released those objects from the parent body.” For a follow-up study, Drouard’s team could use cosmic ray exposure dating to determine how long the meteors traveled through space before entering Earth’s atmosphere, Heck says.
This age has been determined with the radioactive dating technique.
Processed meteorites apparently once were part of a large object that “processed” the original material of the solar nebula into another form.
Radiometric dating shows that these meteorites are generally younger than the primitive meteorites.