British scientists and meteorite specialists discovered parts of the meteorite on March 3, 2021, just days after it entered Earth’s atmosphere and flew across the sky, as Imperial College London announced today. We are talking about a very rare type of meteorite that can help in studying the origin of life on Earth.
The fragments were recovered in such good condition and so quickly after the impact of the meteorite that they are comparable to rock samples returned from space missions, both in quality and quantity.
The discovery came as a result of widespread sightings – on February 28 – of a fireball that lit up the sky and was visible from all over the UK and Northern Europe.
The fireball has been spotted by thousands of eyewitnesses across the UK and Northern Europe. Its fall on February 28 at 21:54 was filmed by spectators and captured by surveillance cameras.
Before colliding with Earth’s atmosphere, the space rock moved at nearly 14 kilometers per second and eventually landed on the Winchcombe highway. Other parts of the meteorite were discovered nearby.
Now astronomers and meteorite experts have found pieces of this space rock at Winchcombe, Gloucestershire. It will likely become known as the Winchcombe meteorite.
The Natural History Museum in London said the fragments were recovered in such good condition and so quickly after the impact of the meteorite that they are comparable to rock samples obtained from space missions, both in quality and quantity.
“I was shocked when I saw this and immediately realized that it was a rare meteorite and a completely unique event,” admits Richard Greenwood, planetary science researcher at the Open University. He was the first scientist to identify a meteorite.
The meteorite belongs to the carbonaceous chondrite.
There are about 65,000 fragments of known meteorites on Earth. Only 1206 falls were recorded, of which only 51 were carbonaceous chondrites.
It is known that such meteorites contain organic matter and amino acids, that is, the ingredients for life.
These are some of the reasons why scientists are so thrilled to have discovered this meteorite so soon after it fell.
They said they recovered the meteorite in such good condition, so quickly after it fell, that it is comparable to asteroid samples returned from space missions, both in quality and quantity.
“Almost all meteorites come to us from asteroids – these unused building blocks of the solar system can tell us how planets like ours were formed. The opportunity to be the first to see and study a meteorite discovered almost immediately after the fall is a dream come true! ” Ashley King said, a science researcher in the Department of Natural Sciences.
They are also thrilled because this extremely rare type of meteorite has never been found in the UK before. It is the first meteorite discovered in the UK in 30 years.
Meteorites are much older than any rock on Earth. According to the Natural History Museum, they usually travel for thousands of years in space before being captured – usually by the Sun, but sometimes also by the Earth. When these space objects travel through the atmosphere, they sometimes create a bright fireball before falling to Earth, as was the case with this meteorite.
According to the museum, the space rock was similar to a specimen recently brought to Earth from space by the Japanese Hayabusa 2 mission, which received about 5.4 grams of fragments of the asteroid Ryugu, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Scientists advise putting the found pieces in foil and not touching them again, but it is better to take a picture on the spot and send the GPS coordinates.
And most importantly, in no case should a magnet be placed next to the meteorite, this can destroy important information that will help scientists learn even more about what happened in the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.