Natural history is not at its end -- bridging past and presence of
meteorite impacts at the museum using online observation tools
The Noerdlinger Ries is regarded as one of the best studied terrestrial
impact craters. Because of its accessibility and its excellent
preservation this area continues to be a research target for numerous
international students, geoscientists and impact researchers. Here
astronauts from the Apollo 14 and 17 missions studied the identification
and sampling of impact rocks to prepare for their trip to the Moon.
Today it is a regular training area for ESA astronauts and project
planners. As an ‘In-crater museum’, the Ries Crater Museum offers
insights into the spectacular event 15 million years ago. It illuminates
the significance and the larger context of the Ries event to a wider
audience: our Solar System, comets, asteroids, meteorites, and the
special role of impacts in the evolution of our Solar System and Earth.
Permanent didactic challenges in this context are: Most of the relevant
processes cannot be observed directly. The time scale considered is very
large and very different from that of a human being. Large impact-events
took place long ago (Millions and billions of years ago) and were/are
very rare events by human standards. Also, only remains of large and
relatively new impacts are preserved and visible to some extent. All
this often leads to the conclusion that impact processes are part of the
past without actual relevance except at the cinema. In reality objects
from space hit Earth every day, every hour, every minute, every second.
But since they are usually very small, their fall is rarely spectacular
and usually not noticed. We are currently working on the renewal of the
meteorite area in our museum. In this context we plan to draw visitors’
attention to recent fall events and to show their special importance for
science and society. To demonstrate the ongoing bombardment of the earth
we present online or ‘near online’ observations to make visible the
usually invisible to the ‘normal’ eye. We try to overcome the
restrictions of timescale and take a sharp look into the present by
reducing time slots and using a ‘magnifying glass’. We present concepts
and approaches. Suggestions and comments are welcome!