Tag Archives: meteorite

Largest Texas meteorite ever found by accident on dude ranch

The largest Texas meteorite ever, weighing 760 pounds, has been found on a Texas dude ranch.

The owner found it entirely by accident. It apparently had been there for a long time, but no one had noticed it, mostly because of its weathered appearance that made it appear much like any other boulder. Tests proved beyond doubt, however, that it was a meteorite, an L4 chrondite. It has now been sold to a meteorite collection at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth.

Curiosity finds a meteorite

The Curiosity science team have identified and now analyzed a nickel-iron meteorite that Curiosity spotted on October 27.

Scientists of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) project, which operates the rover, first noticed the odd-looking rock in images taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) at at a site the rover reached by an Oct. 27 drive. “The dark, smooth and lustrous aspect of this target, and its sort of spherical shape attracted the attention of some MSL scientists when we received the Mastcam images at the new location,” said ChemCam team member Pierre-Yves Meslin, at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP), of France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Toulouse, France.

ChemCam found iron, nickel and phosphorus, plus lesser ingredients, in concentrations still being determined through analysis of the spectrum of light produced from dozens of laser pulses at nine spots on the object. The enrichment in both nickel and phosphorus at some of the same points suggests the presence of an iron-nickel-phosphide mineral that is rare except in iron-nickel meteorites, Meslin said.

The find is not unprecedented but it is interesting nonetheless.

Thirty ton meteorite excavated in Argentina

In what is one of the largest asteroid chunks ever found on Earth, an excavation team from a local astronomy club this week excavated a thirty ton iron-nickel meteorite from the ground.

Dubbed Gancedo after a nearby town, it isn’t a record-holder, but it sure is big. What I found interesting from the article, however, is this:

Gancedo’s fall to Earth occurred between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. Locals knew of the fall for centuries, even making iron tools from meteorites found in the strewnfield. In the 16th century, the Spanish became interested in stories of a piece of iron that fell from the sky, and in 1774 don Bartolomé Francsico de Maguna led an expedition that came across a mass of iron, referred to as Mesón de Fierro (“Table of Iron” in Spanish). Another 1,400-pound fragment from Campo del Cielo named Otumpa now resides at the British Museum in London. With more than 100 tons of meteorite recovered, Campo del Cielo is the top producer in terms of pure meteorite mass worldwide.

The Campo del Cielo strewnfield extends over an ellipse 3 km wide by 19 km long over an area northwest of Buenos Aires, and meteorites found here have a polycrystalline coarse octahedrite composition characteristic of iron-nickel meteorites. They are also unusually pure even among iron-nickel meteorites, consisting of 93% iron. Most of the remaining 7% is nickel, and less than 1% are trace elements.

The evidence here is that a very dense asteroid, weighing a minimum of 100 tons but probably several times that, smashed into the Earth about five thousand years ago. Yet, all life on Earth was not wiped out, as is repeatedly suggested might happen whenever a similarly sized asteroid zips close past the Earth. In fact, there is no evidence this impact had any significant global environmental effects.

Remember this the next time another asteroid of similar size zips past the Earth and the media doom-sayers begin to sing their siren song again.

The first recorded human death from a meteorite?

Officials in India are reporting what could be the first recorded death of a human by meteorite impact.

According to local reports, a bus driver was killed on Saturday when a meteorite landed in the area where he was walking, damaging the window panes of nearby buses and buildings. Three other people were injured.

The story is not yet confirmed, and could easily be proven wrong.

Rare large meteorite stolen from Australian museum

In a heist reminiscent of a Hollywood movie, two thieves in hooded jumpers and white masks stole a 25 pound meteorite the size of a soccer ball on Monday.

The only value of such a meteorite is among collectors, but to sell such a large and unique meteorite without being noticed would be impossible. It is theorized that the thieves might chop it up and sell the pieces to collectors instead.

Largest ancient meteorite impact found?

The uncertainty of science: Scientists doing geothermal research in Australia have discovered evidence of what they think is the largest known impact zone from an meteorite on Earth.

The zone is thought to be about 250 miles across, and suggests the bolide split in two pieces each about 6 miles across before impact. The uncertainty is that the evidence for this impact is quite tentative:

The exact date of the impacts remains unclear. The surrounding rocks are 300 to 600 million years old, but evidence of the type left by other meteorite strikes is lacking. For example, a large meteorite strike 66 million years ago sent up a plume of ash which is found as a layer of sediment in rocks around the world. The plume is thought to have led to the extinction of a large proportion of the life on the planet, including many dinosaur species.

However, a similar layer has not been found in sediments around 300 million years old, Dr Glikson said. “It’s a mystery – we can’t find an extinction event that matches these collisions. I have a suspicion the impact could be older than 300 million years,” he said.

In other words, they find some evidence that an impact occurred, but not other evidence that is expected to be found with such an impact. Moreover, the rocks at the sedimentary layer where the impact is found are dated around 300 million years ago, a time when no major extinction took place. Either this impact didn’t really happen, or it didn’t happen when it appears it should have, or it shows that large impacts don’t necessarily cause mass extinctions.

Organic material from Mars?

The uncertainty of science: Scientists theorize that the carbon material found in a 2011 meteorite could be Martian biological material.

Ejected from Mars after an asteroid crashed on its surface, the meteorite, named Tissint, fell on the Moroccan desert on July 18, 2011, in view of several eyewitnesses. Upon examination, the alien rock was found to have small fissures that were filled with carbon-containing matter. Several research teams have already shown that this component is organic in nature. But they are still debating where the carbon came from.

Chemical, microscopic and isotope analysis of the carbon material led the researchers to several possible explanations of its origin. They established characteristics that unequivocally excluded a terrestrial origin, and showed that the carbon content were deposited in the Tissint’s fissures before it left Mars.

Finding a meteorite 20 years after it hit the ground

By reanalyzing the data that had recorded the fireball twenty years ago, a team of meteorite hunters in the Czech Republic have finally located the remains of a meteorite that landed in 1991 but could not be found.

What is most interesting scientifically about their find is that the pieces they found were from different types of meteorites.

[T]hese four meteorites are of three different mineralogical types. This means that the Benešov meteoroid was heterogeneous and contained at least three different types of material. After the Almahata Sitta fall, this is the second time that such a heterogeneous composition has been found. It raises the possibility that a significant fraction of all asteroids are heterogeneous and that they were strongly reprocessed by collisions with other asteroids in the main belt.

In other words, the meteorite had been a conglomerate of different geological types, which were created in different environments and were later smashed together to form this one rock.

Questions raised about Nicaragua meteorite impact

Scientists have raised questions about the meteorite impact that was reported to have occurred in Nicaragua on Saturday.

More here. There are doubts about the impact crater, the theory that the meteorite was somehow related to the meteorite that flew past the Earth on Sunday, and the boom sound that local residents heard that same night.

A skydiver’s helmet cam captures a meteorite zipping past him as it falls.

A skydiver’s helmet cam videotapes a meteorite zipping past him as it falls.

The incident happened back in the summer of 2012, when skydiver Anders Helstrup and other members of the Oslo Parachute Club took to the skies above Hedmark, Norway. Helstrup documented the jump with two cameras fixed to the front and back of his helmet. Helstrup tells NRK (the largest media outlet in Norway) that on the way down he felt “something” happen, but didn’t know what. It was only after landing and reviewing his camera footage that he discovered something shocking: a rock had fallen from the heavens and missed him by just a few yards.

Video below the fold. The news woman is annoying, but the footage is quite cool.
» Read more

The accumulated evidence from the Chelyabinsk meteorite now suggests the risk of large asteroid impacts might be ten times greater than previously estimated.

The accumulated evidence from the Chelyabinsk meteorite now suggests the risk of large asteroid impacts might be ten times greater than previously estimated.

The Chelyabinsk asteroid had approached Earth from a region of the sky that is inaccessible to ground-based telescopes. In the 6 weeks before the impact, it would have been visible above the horizon only during the daytime, when the sky is too bright to see objects of its size, says Borovička.

“The residual impact risk — from asteroids with yet-unknown orbits — is shifting to small-sized objects,” says Peter Brown, a planetary scientist at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, and an author on the Nature papers.

Of the millions of estimated near-Earth asteroids 10–20 metres in diameter, only about 500 have been catalogued. Models suggest that an object the size of the Chelyabinsk asteroid hits Earth once every 150 years on average, Brown says. But the number of observed impacts exceeding 1 kiloton of TNT over the past 20 years alone hints at an actual impact risk that may be an order of magnitude larger than previously assumed,

The data also now suggests that the Chelyabinsk asteroid was twice as big as previously thought, and that it had an almost identical orbit to a much larger already known asteroid.

Divers have pulled fragments from the February 15 Chelyabinsk meteorite impact out of nearby Chebarkul Lake.

Divers have pulled fragments from the February 15 Chelyabinsk meteorite impact out of nearby Chebarkul Lake.

Posted from Gaitlinburg, Tennessee, the Coney Island of the Smoky Mountains. The drive today was sadly a lot longer than planned, as we hit bad traffic in Nashville.

Largest in a century.

More on today’s Russian meteorite: Largest in a century.

My earlier skepticism appears incorrect. This impact actually happened.

Note the article’s sense of outrage and panic that we aren’t looking for these types of rocks:

Although a network of telescopes watches for asteroids that might strike Earth, it is geared towards spotting larger objects — between 100 metres and a kilometre in size. “Objects like that are nearly impossible to see until a day or two before impact,” says Timothy Spahr, Director of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which tracks asteroids and small bodies. So far as he knows, he says, his centre also failed to spot the approaching rock.

Yet, today’s impact actually illustrates the wisdom of excluding this kind of small asteroid from searches. They aren’t big enough to do serious harm, and trying to find them would hamper searches for larger asteroids that do pose a serious risk.

Meteorite experts now think the rock that hit a pastor’s house could be a piece from last week’s San Francisco fireball.

The uncertainty of science: Meteorite experts now think the rock that hit a pastor’s house could be a piece from last week’s San Francisco fireball.

At first they said, “Yes it was from space,” then they said “No it is not from space.” Now they think yes.

The first piece of a meteor that fell over San Francisco on Wednesday has been found.

The first piece of a meteor that fell over San Francisco on Wednesday has been found.

The 2.2-ounce meteorite hit the roof of Rev. Kent and Lisa Webber on St. Francis Avenue on Thursday night, but they didn’t realize at the time what it was, according to Novato Patch.

Scientists studying a meteorite thought to come from the asteroid Vesta have concluded that it contains evidence that the asteroid once had a magnetic field.

Scientists studying a meteorite thought to come from the asteroid Vesta have concluded that it contains evidence that the asteroid once had a magnetic field.

This appears to be a very tentative finding, intriguing and possible, but not yet strongly proven.

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