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Many historical figures are celebrated for achieving great things but conveniently forgotten of all the terrible things they did to other people. Christopher Columbus is one prime example. A quick Google search will reveal dozens of beloved characters with shady personalities, but one story that is not told often is that of Arctic explorer Robert. E. Peary who is widely believed to be the first person to have reached the North Pole in 1909. This story, however, begins a lot earlier.

About 10,000 years ago a large lump of extraterrestrial rock veered too close to the earth and got sucked into the planet’s gravitational field. As it slashed through the dense atmosphere, the intense heat generated weakened the structure of the iron meteorite and it exploded into several smaller pieces. Several pieces fell across Greenland embedding themselves in the vast ice sheet. Others fell in the ocean near Baffin Bay. The meteorite is estimated to have weighed 100 tones before it exploded.

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Robert Peary stands besides a large chunk of meteorite he salvaged from Greenland. Photo credit: National Geographic

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