New exhibition allows visitors to touch meteorites

A new exhibition at Manchester Museum, Catch A Shooting Star, is enabling visitors to get their hands on amazing rocks from other worlds.    The meteorite touchable display has been developed by the Catch a Shooting Star team, led by meteorite researchers at the Open University in collaboration with the University of Manchester. The exhibit, which has been funded by a public engagement grant by the Science and Technology Facilities Council , is the first permanent display in the UK where you can handle so many different types of meteorites and impact rocks in one place.

On display are the different types of samples which formed from the earliest material in the Solar System and through subsequent geological processes.   “Scientific research of meteorites allows detailed characterisation of the events involved in our solar system formation over the last 4.5 billion years, they contain crucial information to help us understand how the planets, moons, asteroids and comets came to exist as we see them today” said Dr Diane Johnson, Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Open University.

The samples, which are hosted in the rock and dinosaur gallery at Manchester Museum include a piece of the famous Chelyabinsk meteorite (derived from an asteroid) which fell to earth in 2013, landing in Russia and causing damage to local buildings.  Other exhibits include a piece of a meteorite formed in the volcanic lava flow on Mars, one which came from the ancient white highlands of the Moon and several iron meteorites formed in cores of ancient planetary embryos.

The display will be opened by planetary scientist Professor Monica Grady at a research conference for the UK meteorite research community and has led Dr David Gelsthorpe, Curator of Earth Science Collection at Manchester Museum to comment “Manchester is now one of the best places in the UK to see and touch real meteorites and the only place you can touch the Moon and Mars!”