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Meteorites search blog

In autumn 2006, meteorite curator Caroline Smith and meteorite researcher Gretchen Benedix, travelled to the Nullabor Desert in western Australia to search for meteorites.

Read their blog to see what they found and learn more about life as a meteorite hunter.

Getting ready to search for meteorites

Caroline, Wednesday 20 September 2006

The Nullarbor Plain in south western, Australia © Phil Bland

The Nullarbor Plain in south western, Australia © Phil Bland

Organising everything for our meteorite search trip to Australia has kept me really busy over the last couple of weeks. We have to make sure that we have everything that we need for our fieldwork in the desert. At some points we’re going to be tens of miles from the nearest other people and there certainly won’t be any local shops to buy anything that we’ve forgotten! I’ve never been anywhere so isolated before, so I think I’m going to find it very strange. I’m a bit nervous - and excited as well. One important job has been sorting out all the paperwork, so that we can collect the samples. Australia classes meteorites as cultural and historical artefacts, and we can’t just go out to collect them and bring them back to the Museum. We have to make sure that we have all the necessary paperwork ready and signed – otherwise we’d be breaking Australian law and Museum rules!

We’re flying out to Australia on Thursday and, after a couple of days in Singapore we will be arriving in Perth on Sunday. When we get to Perth we have to buy more equipment and supplies for our field work and we’ll co-ordinate with our colleagues from the Western Australian Museum in Perth. Then, a week later, we’re off to the desert.

The summer of a meteorite curator

Caroline, Monday 18 September 2006

One of the aspects of my job that I really enjoy is that I get to travel quite a bit. This summer I’ve already been to Morocco, Zurich and Glasgow to attend meetings about meteorites.

Because I have been travelling so much I haven’t really had much chance to do as much curation and research as I would normally do. Saying that, after a big meeting I always receive a lot of requests from scientists for samples that they can work on. When they hear about something exciting at a big meeting, they want to work on that sample themselves!

So I’ve spent quite a lot of time over the past few weeks weighing out and preparing samples for study. This involves a fair amount of paperwork – and there’s lots of paperwork for the Australian trip too. Not my favourite part of the job.