About the scientists

Caroline Smith, Museum meteorite curator

Being a meteorite curator is my dream job. I became fascinated by meteorites while I was at university studying Geology, and I've never lost interest.

My job here at the Natural History Museum is to look after the nearly 2,000 meteorites in the national collection. The work is quite varied. Curation involves caring for the meteorites, making sure they are kept airtight, bagged, labelled and stored. I also carry out research on meteorites in the collection and on new samples that come into the Museum.

I'm really looking forward to visiting Australia as I have never been there, and I've always wanted to go. In the nine years I've been working with meteorites, I've only ever seen them in a museum or laboratory environment - in bags, in drawers and in display cases.

I can't wait to go out into the field to find meteorites where they have actually fallen. It will be so exciting to discover a meteorite and know that I'm the first person to pick it up.

Gretchen Benedix, Museum meteorite researcher

I first became interested in meteorites when I did a college project to determine what potential hazard asteroids might pose to us, as their orbits cross with those of the Earth's. I'm now interested in studying meteorites to try and tease out the information they can give us about the development of the solar system and the planets. I specialise in the study of meteorites that are formed from asteroids that were heated. These tell us about how the Earth formed.

I've always enjoyed being outdoors, and have had a couple of opportunities to hunt for meteorites in Antarctica. The conditions there are great for finding meteorites - desert conditions, whether they're hot or cold, are good for preserving the meteorites. It's not so great if you get cold, though. It'll be interesting to hunt for meteorites in the relative comfort of the Nullarbor desert in Australia. I'm really looking forward to this new challenge.

Cartoon image of a stegasaurus disappearing through closing door

The first collected specimen of Theobroma cacao, the plant from which chocolate is made, is kept in the Museum.