G. J. H. McCall, A. J. Bowden, John A. Wood, Ursula B. Marvin, 2006. "Epilogue", The History of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections: Fireballs, Falls and Finds, G.J.H. McCall, A.J. Bowden, R.J. Howarth
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In this brief epilogue we take a look into the future and some very topical additional discussion is provided by Ursula Marvin on meteorites and Mars, the topic of Monica Grady’s article (Grady 2006).
John Wood in a brief but elegant essay has emphasized the failure so far to establish the origin of chondrules, a fundamental — perhaps the most fundamental — question facing meteoriticists at the present time. The alternative impact hypothesis to the nebular was not described in any detail in the chapter on ‘Chondrules and calcium-aluminium inclusions (CAIs)’ (McCall 2006) because, at the time of writing, it seemed rather outdated, but it has lately come to prominence again, being favoured by Sears (see Scott 2005).
As time progresses we hope to see an improved understanding of nebular processes resulting from a closer matching of astrophysical models to data arising from research, such as that conducted on understanding the nature of shortlived isotopes. High-resolution chronologies of events in the early solar system should become more clearly defined. The timescales of accretion and differentiation in the early solar system will then, hopefully, be better understood. This, in turn, can aid in the interpretation of observational data, using more sensitive detector technologies, concerning the evolution of circumstellar discs and stellar formation processes.
Exoplanet searches are becoming more sophisticated and the observed range of planetary systems around other stars raises all sorts of interesting questions about planetary dynamics and evolutionary processes. Is our solar system unique or part of a continuum of planetary configurations that
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This Special Publication has 24 papers with an international authorship, and is prefaced by an introductory overview which presents highlights in the field. The first section covers the acceptance by science of the reality of the falls of rock and metal from the sky, an account that takes the reader from BCE (before common era) to the nineteenth century. The second section details some of the world's most important collections in museums - their origins and development. The Smithsonian chapter also covers the astonishingly numerous finds in the cold desert of Antarctica by American search parties. There are also contributions covering the finds by Japanese parties in the Yamato mountains and the equally remarkable discoveries in the hot deserts of Australia, North Africa, Oman and the USA. The other seven chapters take the reader through the revolution in scientific research on meteoritics in the later part of the twentieth century, including terrestrial impact cratering and extraordinary showers of glass from the sky; tektites, now known to be Earth-impact-sourced. Finally, the short epilogue looks to the future.
The History of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections should appeal to historians of science, meteoriticists, geologists, astronomers, curators and the general reader with an interest in science.