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CM2Victoria, Australia (36°37’ S, 145°12’ E)


Victoria, Australia (36°37’ S, 145°12’ E)
Blanketed in glossy fusion crust this specimen is highly oriented. A pronounced ablation lip is at its perimeter from which material melted and ablated off the meteorite’s surface. This is a pristine, exemplary specimen of a distinguished meteorite.
58 x 40 x 25 mm (2¼ x 1½ x 1 in.)
Philip C. Mani Collection, Houston
Peltzer, E., Bada, J., Schlesinger, G. & Miller, S. (1984), “The chemical condiions on the parent body of the Murchison meteorite: Some conclusions based on amino, hydroxy and dicarboxylic acids.” Advances in Space Research, 4(12), 69-74.

Walton, D. (2010), “Space rock contains organic molecular feast.” BBC News. Accessed November 11, 2015.

Cronin, J. and Chang, S. (1993), “Organic Matter in Meteorites: Molecular and Isotopic Analyses of the Murchison Meteorite.” The Chemistry of Life’s Origins, 416, 209-258.

Matson, J. (2010), “Meteorite That Fell in 1969 Still Revealing Secrets of the Early Solar System.” Scientific American. Accessed November 3, 2015.
Engel, M. H., Macko, S. A. (1997), “Isotopic evidence for extraterrestrial non-racemic amino acids in the Murchison meteorite.” Nature, 389, 265-268.
Special notice
These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

Lot Essay

At 10:58 am on September 28, 1969, a meteorite shower occurred over the town of Murchison, Australia, causing a frenzy in the scientific community. In addition to containing a variety of organic compounds including alcohols and aromatic hydrocarbons, Murchison meteorites contain amino acids — the building blocks of proteins. Rich in carbon and water, Murchison is classified as a CM2 meteorite (see Cold Bokkeveld, lot 37). Chemically primitive, it experienced extensive alteration by water-rich fluids on its parent body prior to intercepting Earth. Coveted by both scientists and collectors, the last several decades have seen Murchison become among the most researched meteorites with citations in scores of scientific papers. Murchison provides support for the Panspermia Theory of Life (i.e., that life on Earth was "seeded" by extraterrestrial impact). In 2010, an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences announced that 14,000 unique molecular compounds were identified in a small section of a Murchison research specimen. The study, by a team of nine German scientists further determined that many of the organic compounds were present in the solar system prior to when life commenced on Earth—which not only begs the question of whether meteorites may have played a key role in life's origins, but whether similar material seeded other solar systems as well. This particular specimen also boasts membership in another elite club: unlike 99% of all meteorites, this specimen experienced a minimal amount of tumbling as it careened through our atmosphere and maintained the same axis of orientation during its plunge earthward. As a result, the lead face has a different character than the dark side. The parabolic "heat shield" seen was contoured by atmospheric frictional heating. As this is the optimal angle at which heat is most efficiently deflected away from an object entering Earth’s atmosphere, this same curvature was emulated in the heat shield design of the first manned space capsules.

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