I'm assuming that when retrieving a meteor for study and later display, there are precautions taken against possible radiation coming from it. Is my assumption correct and are there other precautions taken such as protection from biohazards? (e.g. is it not possible for a meteor to carry a foreign viral agent?)


Meteorites are composed of rock and iron. They are not radioactive, at least no more so than any other stone. A banana is probably more radioactive than a meteorite.

You do not need protection for foreign viral agents either. Meteorites are stones that have been orbiting in space, usually for billions of years. They do not contain any living things. The have also passed through the atmosphere so fast that their surface can begin to melt from the friction.

You can pick up a meteorite with you unprotected hands

For pedants: A meteorid is "space stone". Meteor is the flash of light in the sky as a meteoroid passes through the atmosphere. Meteorite is the stone from space that you find on the ground. It is the meteorite that you retrieve for study.

There is a suggestion that ancient meteorites bought the ingredients for life to Earth, or even seeded life on the planet, but it is speculative as we don't have the evidence to prove it.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Certainly we have never observed non-Earth-origin biological matter on any meteorite or any other sample from space. Even a hint of this would be a headline event. (Remember when scientists at NASA thought they'd found evidence of merely fossil evidence of life in a meteorite? Big headlines.) Far more people (one, I believe) have been hurt by being struck by meteorites than by viral or radioactive contamination from them. $\endgroup$ – Mark Olson Jun 22 '18 at 13:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If you plan to have the thing analyzed for organic molecules, a pair of tongs and a clean glass jar might be the best way to handle it. I doubt most get such fancy treatment, they have land on dirt after all. $\endgroup$ – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 22 '18 at 16:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.