Fukang meteorite – an amazing extraterrestrial stone

(ORDO NEWS) — In 2000, a tourist was walking near the mountains of Fukang (China) and stumbled upon something impressive.

It was a stone-iron meteorite filled with honeycomb-like crystals. It is now the most famous meteorite in the world, but what makes it special?

Pallasite meteorites

The Fukang meteorite belongs to a rare class of meteorites known as pallasites. They are characterized by nickel-iron metal networks in which crystals of the silicate mineral olivine are embedded.

When cut and polished, pallasites show an impressive arrangement of translucent crystals that are typically green in color but sometimes have distinct yellow, brown, or golden hues resulting from weathering on Earth.

These meteorites were originally named by the German physician and naturalist Peter Simon Pallas, who first described Krasnoyarsk pallasite in 1772.

This strange piece of iron was found by a blacksmith in Siberia at the beginning of this century and brought to St. Petersburg for analysis.

Because of their striking and unusual appearance, pallasites are considered one of the first recognized extraterrestrial materials.

They provide a unique glimpse into the deep interior of our solar system as they formed about 4.5 billion years ago.

Rocks are thought to have formed in differentiated asteroids (asteroids that have split into a core and mantle due to changes caused by thermal processes).

According to O. Richard Norton, author of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Meteorites, pallasites “may be regarded as an immiscible emulsion, like oil and water.”

During differentiation, the crystals created by fractionation separate the body’s two main minerals, allowing the mineral olivine to accumulate deep within the asteroid.

It could also explain why these meteorites are so unusual – pallasites make up less than 0.2 percent of all known meteorites on Earth.

Fukang meteorite an amazing extraterrestrial stone 2

History of the Fukang meteorite

The tourist who found the meteorite found it unusual to observe strange crystals and metals that seemed to stick out of the 1,003 kilogram specimen. In the end, he decided to send a sample of the rock for analysis.

Since then, the meteorite has been split into several pieces. It is currently one of the most sought after and valuable meteorites on the planet.

In February 2005, most of the original specimen was displayed at the Gem and Mineral Show in Tucson.

In 2008, a large piece of a meteorite weighing about 420 kilograms was put up for auction in New York and was expected to be worth over $2 million.

Then, in 2021, Christie’s announced that it had sold a smaller piece of the Fukang meteorite for $30,000.


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