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Micrometeorite Collecting; STEM Outreach
Micrometeorites originate from small pieces of rock from space colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere at high velocity, such as the Perseid meteors which hit the atmosphere at 60 km/s. When they do so, they burn up, causing a flash of light that we see as a meteor. Many groups have been successful collecting these particles using various devices. Such activities make great science projects for middle and high school students, and we plan to start a program to train students in the collecting methods and get them interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. Various methods are used to collect micrometeorites from rainwater, but little work has been done to assess the most efficient method of collecting these particles from space and then analyzing them. Before we began our citizen science project, we determined that it was necessary to conduct a pilot project to determine the most effective method of collecting micrometeorites from rainwater. Four collecting methods were tried and the method that collected the most micrometeorites was also the simplest, that being a simple bucket under the downspout of the gutter system of a house and a magnet which is then run through the bucket to gather the meteorites.