Meteorite hunters successfully recovered a meteorite only days after it plowed through the atmosphere and landed in a driveway in Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom on February 28th.
The fragment, weighing nearly 300 grams, and other pieces of the space rock were located after scientists reconstructed the flight path of the fireball that unleashed a sonic boom as it tore across the sky shortly before 10pm UK time on Sunday 28 February. The black chunk of rock, a carbonaceous chondrite never seen before in the UK, thumped on to a driveway in the Cotswolds town of Winchcombe, scientists at the Natural History Museum in London said, adding that further fragments were retrieved nearby.
Ashley Green, a scientist at the museum, said it was “a dream come true” to be one of the first people to see and study a meteorite that had been recovered almost immediately after coming down.
Footage of the bright streak captured by the public, and a camera network operated by the Natural History Museum’s UK Fireball Alliance, helped researchers calculate that the meteor had spent most of its orbit between Mars and Jupiter before it ploughed into Earth’s atmosphere.
I seriously doubt that no carbonaceous chondrite asteroids have never been found in Great Britain before. Instead, what the reporter misunderstood was that this was the first such asteroid in the UK recovered immediately after its arrival. Carbonaceous chondrites are very fragile. Much of their material will quickly erode and disappear, preventing researchers from obtaining a complete census of their entire make-up. Grabbing this thing mere days after landing means they will have a sample more closely resembling these kinds of asteroids in space.
In this way this rock is not much different than the samples being brought back from Hayabusa-2 and OSIRIS-REx. It isn’t as pristine, but it certainly carries far more information that meteorites recovered decades or even centuries after landing.
Similar quick recoveries in the past few years have forced some major rethinking about the make-up of the asteroid population. This meteorite will likely add to that revolution.
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