Two hundred years and one month ago, a stone which fell from the sky
in Yorkshire made headlines in the newspapers of the day and was put
on display in Piccadilly. It was seen by the Presidents of the
Society of Antiquities and the Royal Society, both of whom commented
the similarity between this and other stones which had fallen
elsewhere in the world during the immediately preceding few years.
The Royal Society's President, the legendary Sir Joseph Banks, as a
result of his observations set in motion a programme of chemical and
petrological studies which was to prove conclusively that all the
stones were related. As an outcome in 1802 it became almost
generally accepted that these stones, meteorites were of
extraterrestrial origin and the subject of meteoritic was born. Now
another President has recognised the value of meteorite research
saying that if the discoveries made on Martian sample 84001 "are
confirmed it will surely be one of the most stunning insights into
our Universe that science has ever uncovered".