On Friday 23rd July 2021, Dr Penelope Wozniakiewicz and Dr Matthias van Ginneken, from the School of Physical Sciences of the University of Kent, went on the roof of the Cathedral of Canterbury to hunt for micrometeorites.
Micrometeorites are dust-sized particles continuously raining down from space and that represent the main part of the flux of extraterrestrial matter to Earth. Hence, micrometeorites are important to fully understand the inventory of matter in the Solar System and its history. Until recently, micrometeorites were found in environments mostly preserved from human activity, such as the deep ocean floor and Antarctica. A recent scientific publication by Genge et al. (2017) on “urban” micrometeorites proved that they can also be found in environments of intense human activities, such as roofs of buildings in densely populated areas. This hunt for “urban” micrometeorites is therefore essential to know more about this precious particles.
This sample of micrometeorites will form the bases of a citizen science based outreach project that is being designed to complement our planetary science research. This will engage the public’s interest in space science, by providing the opportunity to go beyond merely hearing about cutting edge research to taking part and contributing to it.
Update provided by Dr Penelope Wozniakiewicz.