Earth sweeps up 5,200 tons of extraterrestrial dust each year

As our planet orbits the sun, it swoops through clouds of extraterrestrial dust — and several thousand metric tons of that material actually reaches Earth’s surface every year, new research suggests.

During three summers in Antarctica over the past two decades, researchers collected more than 2,000 micrometeorites from three snow pits that they’d dug. Extrapolating from this meager sample to the rest of the world, tiny pebbles from space account for a whopping 5,200 metric tons of weight gain each year, researchers report in the April 15 Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Much of Antarctica is the perfect repository for micrometeorites because there’s no liquid water to dissolve or

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