A new addition to the Natural History Museum only arrived after a long journey of almost 400,000km: a chunk of moon rock that fell to earth as a lunar meteorite.
- The piece from the Galb Inal meteorite weighs close to 2kg
- On display in the world-leading meteorite section of the museum (to be fair, you’d not expect it in the gallery of stuffed mammals)
- Acquired through a kind donation in the will of Hatice Skarits
- See also: Natural History Museum visitor tips
The Galb Inal meteorite
(Photo © NHM Wien, C. Rittmannsperger)
Pity the poor lunar meteorite, Galb Inal. Minding your own business as a bit of moon rock and enjoying the view. Then some kind of impact event sends you off into space. Next thing you know you’re hurtling toward earth and dumped unceremoniously in the Mauritanian countryside.
The meteorite split into two on impact, with one half now residing in the Meteorite Hall of the Natural History Museum. At almost 2kg, this is one of the largest pieces of lunar rock on display to the public. The museum has another eleven in its possession.
(The other half suffered a less wholesome fate. It was cut into slices, which are now mostly found in private collections.)
Research reveals that the original meteorite probably weighed something between 7kg and 23kg and may have been as large as 26cm in diameter. Much of the material burned off in the atmosphere, of course, leaving just over 4kg to be found by nomads in 2011. In terms of composition, the meteorite is a lunar breccia made of feldspar, with a shiny black, wind-polished surface, and containing fragments of rocks and minerals.
Given the rarity of the lunar rock (with only a few hundred similar examples on earth known to scientists), the museum has the generosity of Hatice Skarits (1930-2016) to thank for the acquisition. Her will made provision for part of her inheritance to be used for the purchase of a meteorite for the museum’s collection.
How to get to the meteorite
Find your way to the Natural History Museum using the tips in the main article. Once inside, head right to find the geology section. The Meteorite gallery (Hall 5) contains hundreds of rarities and wonders from space, including the giant Knyahinya meteorite weighing almost 300kg and the Hraschina meteorite that started the collection.
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