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Scientists Can’t Explain the Mystery of the Chondrite

On December 6, 2020, astronomers awaited the return of Hayabusa2 (a toaster-sized capsule launch by the Japanese space agency). Onboard was a payload of 5 grams of material from asteroid Ryugu. While they were anxious for whatever made the 60,000-mile journey back to earth, what they were really hoping to see was chondrules.

Chondrules are small, seedlike rocks measuring up to just a few millimeters across, embedded inside larger rocks (called chondrites). They are essentially rocks within rocks and are thought to have formed shortly after the birth of our solar system. The majority of the roughly 60,000 meteorites that humans have discovered are chondrites.

Scientist believe that understanding how chondrites formed is key to unlocking how the solar system was formed. Science writer Jonathan O’Callaghan says, "In our understanding of how (planets) came to be, there may be nothing as important as the mystery of the chondrule."

But the secret has eluded astronomers. In fact, there is no consensus on how these objects formed. The joke goes that there are as many theories about chondrule formation as there are chondrule scientists themselves.

A few years ago, at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, a stunned audience watched as revered scientist John Wood appeared to admit frustrated defeat in understanding their origin. He said, “We still don’t understand what the meteorites are telling us, and sometimes I wonder if we ever will.” A few years later, he quit science cold turkey and turned his attentions to oil painting and spending time with his wife. And to anyone following in his footsteps Wood say, “I wish them good luck.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

Dr. Fred Ciesla, a planetary scientist from the University of Chicago, says: “We can build a story about how planets form … but it’s obvious that there’s a piece of the story that we’re missing." With all due respect to Dr. Ciesla and his fellow scientists, it's actually not missing. We read it in Genesis 1.

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