Derby and District Astronomical Society

Open University Visit
3rd March 2004

In December 2002 Graham Ensor travelled to Australia to see a total solar eclipse. While down under he also visited the Gosse Bluff impact site in the central Australian outback. It was there that he discovered some unusual magnetic black pebbles that he thought might be related to the impact site. He was fortunate enough to discuss these pebbles with Dr G H Morgan of the Open University's Beagle 2 Team when he delivered last year's Flamsteed Lecture at The University of Derby. After it was decided the pebbles were not kangaroo droppings Dr Morgan invited Graham to the Planetary & Space Sciences Research Institute at the OU in Milton Keynes. Graham and Mike Dumelow made this visit on 3rd March 2004. They were given a two hour tour of the labs where meteorite analyses are performed and the clean room facilities and labs where the Beagle 2 and some of ESA's Rosetta mission instruments were developed. Dr Morgan ('Taff') made the experience very enjoyable and Graham and Mike were shown close ups of the pebbles through the microscope by geologists at the lab. The scientists are still uncertain as to what the pebbles are. They are definitely not meteorites or tektites and at the time of the visit Graham was awaiting the results of thin sectioning.

Some close ups of the pebbles:

Mike Dumelow stands outside Professor Colin Pillinger's office. The faint scrawl under Beware of the Dog was added by Damien Hurst and reads 'big ugly dog'. It is probably worth more than all the lab equipment combined!

A Beagle 2 Mars simulator vessel:

Rosetta instrumentation: