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Smithsonian tours its meteorite storage facility: over 15,000 samples in 'tight security'

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Antarctic meteorites stored at the Smithsonian are so well preserved they'll still be in perfect condition a few decades from now.

Smithsonian meteorite preservation
Smithsonian meteorite preservation

In Suitland, Maryland the Smithsonian stores thousands of Antarctic meteorites so well that the samples will actually be preserved for future generations. More than 15,000 meteorites — some of which come from as far as the Moon or Mars — are kept inside of a clean room designed to eliminate any outside contaminants, and pressurized nitrogen gas is used to keep them from coming into contact with any moisture. The Smithsonian says that the entire collection is "kept under tight security and tight airlocks." Not only does this keep the samples clean for researchers today, but the meteorites are so well preserved that they'll still be intact decades from now so that future instruments can take even better measurements — and if you ever want to touch one, maybe the Smithsonian can whip up a 3D model for you.