Washington: Many elements are considered major contributors toward the structure and formation of the moon, Mars and the solar system.
Scientists are making tireless efforts to get to the core of the mystery that surrounds the birth of our solar system and the neighbours of our home planet.
Antarctic meteorites are just one of the elements that will help answer the many questions about the primitive building blocks of the world outside ours and three federal entities in the US – which includes NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Smithsonian Institution (SI) – are reaffirming their commitment to search for them.
These three federal entities recently renewed their agreement to search for, collect and curate Antarctic meteorites in a partnership known as ANSMET – the Antarctic Search for Meteorites Program, the US space agency said in a statement on Tuesday.
Replacing an earlier agreement signed in 1980, the new joint agreement extends the program for another decade.
"Antarctic meteorites are posing new questions about the formation and early history of our solar system. Some of these questions are spurring new exploration of the solar system by NASA missions," Smithsonian meteorite scientist Tim McCoy said.
Since the US began searching for meteorites in Antarctica in 1976, the ANSMET programme has collected more than 23,000 specimens, dramatically increasing the number of samples available for study from Earth's moon, Mars and asteroids.
Among them are the first meteorites discovered to come from the moon and Mars, and the well-known ALH 84001 Martian meteorite, which helped renew interest in Mars exploration in the 1990s.
Meteorites are natural objects that fall to Earth from space and survive intact so they can be collected on the ground, or – in this case – on ice.
Antarctica provides a unique environment for the collection of meteorites, because the cold desert climate preserves meteorites for long periods of time, NASA said.
(With IANS inputs)