These include one-third of all known Martian meteorites, one-third of known lunar meteorites, and numerous other rare or unique samples.
Available evidence indicates that asteroids and comets are leftovers of the intermediate stages of the aggregation mechanism.They are therefore representative of bodies that formed quite early in the history of the solar system.(.) Second, in the early solar system various processes were in operation that heated up solid bodies.The primary ones were decay of short-lived radioactive isotopes within the bodies and collisions between the bodies as they grew.Most meteorites that fall on the ice sheet become buried and are stored for 20,000–30,000 years, although some appear to have been in Antarctica for a million years or more.
The ice of the Antarctic sheet gradually flows radially from the s, which sweep down the gently sloping ice sheets from the centre of the continent, sandblast the upwelling ice with snow and ice particles, eroding it at rates as high as 5–10 cm (2–4 inches) per year and leaving the meteorites stranded on the surface.
Fewer than 1 percent of meteorites are thought to come from the s.
Although evidence from studies of meteors suggests that a small fraction of the cometary material that enters Earth’s atmosphere in discrete chunks possesses sufficient strength to survive to reach the surface, it is not generally believed that any of this material exists in meteorite collections.
Since the 1970s several countries, notably the and Japan, have operated scientific collection programs.
Some tens of thousands of meteorites have been retrieved from Antarctica by the two countries’ programs, increasing the number of meteorites available to researchers manyfold.
Consequently, they should preserve to some degree the dust and other material from which they formed.