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Meteorite recovered in driveway in UK only days after landing

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.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

5 comments

  • Jay

    That is funny. When I was fourteen I found strange rocks at my uncle’s place in R.I. I took them back home, showed them to a local astronomer and he said they were meteorite fragments. He sent a couple of samples to two local universities and they were confirmed.

    The fragments were dug up by my uncle’s father-in-law while putting in the base housing in Newport R.I., back when the 7th Fleet was located there. He found a big rock, smashed it with his steam shovel and hauled it home. He took the fragments and used them for his concrete stairs and porch. Right now two of the bigger fragments are on display next to my fireplace.

  • Edward

    Jay,
    Finding a meteorite is rare. Congratulations to you and your uncle. This expert gets so many false sightings that he has a webpage so that people can weed themselves out before calling him:
    https://sites.wustl.edu/meteoritesite/items/what_to_do/

    I’m sorry, but you have not found a meteorite. Yes, your rock is funny-looking and different from other rocks in the area where you found it, but it does not have a fusion crust or regmaglypts, so why do you think it is a meteorite at all?

  • Jay

    Thanks Edward,
    When I went to college, I took the astronomy 101 course and showed the professor one of the fragments. I brought in my favorite piece with the fused crust, loaned it to him for a few days and he made the remark that it had iron.

  • Jeff Wright

    Pumice and slag often are the worst offenders.

  • wayne

    Jay-
    That, is a great story!
    (have a squarish slice of an iron-nickel specimen that I bought in 1995, weighs like’ 10 grams or so. IIRC it came from Arizona)

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