We Don't Want Your Steenking Meteorites
Though nature often follows art, it sometimes beggars tabloid headlines. Nostril-curling penguin colonies are an occupational hazard of hunting meteorites on the Antarctic ice, but last year searchers scented an even smellier meteorite. Photo ASMP Case Western Reserve
Reported in the Antarctic Meteorite Newsletter this object's chemical and isotopic composition matches none of the 40,000 other meteorites found in Antarctica. Some scientists suspect it represents an unsampled region of
the moon, but others think its brimstone, rotten egg and phosphine reek suggests its hailing from Io, the hellish Jovian moon whose face looks like a pizza with acne because it's pocked with sulfur-spouting volcanoes that also spit sodium ions into Jupiter's radiation belts... .. .
This ancient Antarctic nuisance may have a modern counterpart. Saturday, with an "orange streak and loud bang" a meteorite struck the Peruvian Alteplano, carving a ten meter crater near lake Titicaca. The stench of the crater and fragments of the meteorite found near it has reportedly sickened villagers from nearby Carnacas who come to inspect the crash site.
Many meteorites contain sulfides like troilite, Fex-Ni1-xS , that can that can release the familiar rotten egg stench of hydrogen sulfide. However, a few are rich in phosphide minerals like schreibersite , NiP, which though stable in the vacuum of space , can release highly toxic phosphine on reacting with ground water. In addition to being neurotoxic , phosphine smells like rotten garlic, which might explain reports of headaches, nausea and vomiting by those on the scene