massive eucrite meteorite found by Chinese team in Antarctica

A 1299 gram eucrite meteorite found in February last year by the 30th Chinese Antarctic Research Expedition (南极科学考察) has reached the mainstream news (新华) after Miao Bingkui 缪秉魁 from Guilin University of Technology (桂林理工大学), where the meteorite has been studied, talked about it at an event in Caoyang 曹杨 Middle School in Shanghai. The meteorite, christened GRV13001, was discovered in Grove Mountains, Chinese finds from where have made news in the past.

Less than three pounds might not seem to qualify as ‘massive’ if we’re talking about meteorites in general (a Korean team has recently (video!) found a 36.7 kg meteorite some 300 km from the just opened Jang Bogo base (장보고 기지)), but it is significant for this specific type. The Meteoritical Society‘s Meteoritical Bulletin database registers only maybe a dozen heavier eucrites (out of a total of 310), with the heaviest one at 5.2 kg. The biggest eucrite meteorite from Antarctica is the 3.7 kg Thiel Mountains 07014, found by the Koreans in 2008.

Eucrites are pieces of basaltic rock assumed to come from 4 Vesta in the asteroid belt. This is quite serendipitous, as my previous post discussed how a thick layer of basalt is making it so hard for CNOOC and Ithaca to see if there’s any oil in their patch of the Icelandic Jan Mayen area.

The Chinese name for Vesta, 灶神星 Zàoshénxīng is a bit peculiar. Minor planets with names taken from Classical mythology generally have (informal) Chinese names that translate the name of the original deity, while in non-astronomical context names of Greek and Roman gods are generally transcribed. Thus Vesta, the goddess, is normally 维斯塔 Wéisītǎ, which sounds roughly like ‘Vesta’, while the 灶神 Zàoshén part of the name of the asteroid means ‘hearth spirit’. Now what’s peculiar is that in this case the astronomical ‘spirit’ name is actually a name for the Kitchen God of Chinese folk religion and Taoism, which might or might not have been intentional (those astronomical translations of mythological names generally have no connection with specific Chinese mythical entities).