Space rocks could be hidden under Antarctica's ice


From one extreme to the other -- scientists say hidden deep underneath Antarctica's ice sheets could be meteorites rich in iron.

Meteorites have been recovered all over the world, from populated and unpopulated areas.

But there's been a conspicuous absence of meteorites uncovered in the Antarctic region, a mystery which has previously baffled scientists.

The reason behind the distinct lack of Antarctic meteorites may have now been uncovered.

In the study, published in Nature Communications this week, it suggests Antarctica may not be the exception and the distribution of meteorties isn't unbalanced around the polar region.

Instead, it's possible there are just as many meteorites in the location as there should be -- we just need to look a bit lower.

They're not crashing to the ground and staying put, they're moving, down tens of centimetres under the ice.

As better thermal conductors than non-metallic rocks, the iron-rich meteorites heat up more in response to the sun's rays. It means the ice around them thaws, causing them to sink before the ice sheet refreezes, the study's authors say.

On top of that, the research shows the meteorites can sink faster than the ice grows, permanently trapping them beneath the ice's surface.

Now that we know where the meteorites are likely to be, we could use it, the study's authors say.

If they're accessed, the iron-rich meteorites could help our understanding of the early formation of the Solar System.