A new type of meteoritic material, intermediate in size between meteorites and interplanetary dust particles (IDPs), is described. Melting and filtering of about 100 tons of blue ice near Cap Prudhomme, Antarctica, yielded 7500 or more irregular, friable particles and about 1500 melted spherules, about 100 microns in size, both showing a 'chondritic' composition suggestive of an extraterrestrial origin. Analyzed irregular particles appear to be unmelted and have similarities with the fine-grained matrix of primitive carbonaceous chondrites, but are extremely diverse in composition. Isotopic analysis of trapped neon confirms an extraterrestrial origin for 16 of 47 irregular particles and 2 of 19 spherules studied and strongly suggests that they were exposed in space as micrometeoroids. These large Antarctic micrometeorites constitute a new family, or at least a new population, of solar system objects, in a mass range corresponding to the bulk of extraterrestrial material accreted by the earth today.
LUNAR AND PLANETARY EXPLORATION
Nature (ISSN 0028-0836); 351; 44-47