The International Polar Foundation (IPF) has just posted a fantastic series of pictures of a joint Belgian-Japanese research team discovering a fairly hefty meteorite near their research camp. The meteorite is about 18 kg and was discovered in the Nansen Ice Field, 140 km south of Princess Elisabeth, a zero-emissions research station in Antarctica. This hefty rock was one of about 420 meteorites the team found in the region.

There are countless science fiction stories that start with an innocent team of researchers and explorers stumbling across a meteorite or buried object in Antarctica.

This meteorite seems harmless enough, however. According to the IPF:

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Initial field analysis by the scientists suggests that the 18kg meteorite is an ordinary chondrite, the most abundant kind of meteorite. The fusion crust – the meteorite's outer casing - was eroded, allowing the scientists to inspect the rock underneath. The meteorite is currently undergoing a special thawing process in Japan – to ensure water doesn't get inside the rock - but will be brought to Belgium in the future.

See more pictures of the mission to collect meteorites here.