Astronomers find freshly fallen meteorites based on tracking their fall


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Australian astronomers have found two meteorites on the ground after spotting them in the sky before they fell, with one found only

The first had been spotted in the sky only a few weeks earlier, while the second had been spotted back in November 2019. They had had to postpone the search for the second until the restrictions for the Wuhan flu were lifted.

The discovery of the first was amusing:

Astronomer Dr Hadrien Devillepoix and planetary geologist Dr Anthony Lagain originally went on a reconnaissance mission to assess the latest fall site near Madura, taking drone imagery of the area. Dr Devillepoix said that as they were walking back to their car along the old telegraph track near Madura Cave, they spotted what appeared to be a real meteorite on the ground just in front of them.

“I thought Anthony was playing a prank on me, that he planted one of the fake meteorites we were using for the drone training session. But after a closer inspection, it was evident that the fist-sized, 1.1 kilogram rock we just found was indeed the meteorite we were after,” Dr Devillepoix said. Dr Devillepoix explained that although the rock was very close to the predicted fall position, the team was not expecting to find it that quickly in this bushy terrain.

Based on its track as it fell, the astronomers think it might be from the Aten family of asteroids, which orbit the Sun between Venus and Earth. Such asteroids are hard to find because of the glare of the Sun, and are thus not as well studied. This makes this find even more significant.

Finds like this, which are beginning to happen more and more, are important because, first, the meteorite doesn’t spend much time in the Earth environment, and second, they can precisely identify where the asteroid came from. Both facts allow scientists a much better understanding of the asteroids themselves.

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