09 March 2021

If you find this in your driveway...

... or this in your lawn...

... don't throw it away.  Those are the remnants of a meteorite.
Several rocky fragments have been recovered from the fireball that lit up the sky above southern England just over a week ago.  They came down in the Winchcombe area of Gloucestershire.

A householder first alerted experts after noticing a pile of charred stone on his driveway. Other members of the public have since come forward with their own finds.

Researchers are particularly thrilled because of the rarity of the rock type.  It's carbonaceous chondrite - a stony material that retains unaltered chemistry from the formation of our Solar System 4.6 billion years ago.  "Many contain simple organics and amino acids; some of them contain minerals formed by water - so, all the ingredients are there for understanding how you make a habitable planet such as the Earth," he told BBC News...

Because this fireball was tracked via camera on entry to Earth's atmosphere, its orbit has been worked out. The object came from the outer asteroid belt, out towards Jupiter.  This means its composition almost certainly will be very primitive.

"Basically, that's part of the Solar System we regard as like a deep freeze of material that's 4.5 billion years old," explained the NHM's Prof Sara Russell. "It hasn't had a chance to change at all from pre-planetary time. It will give us an insight into what our Solar System was like before the planets were there."

Mr Arthur Pettifor was tending his onions in his garden when a 10cm rock dropped into his hedge.
And this is my take-home lesson:
The object should then be placed in foil without direct handling. And the absolute no-no: do not put a magnet near the material. This could destroy important information needed to study the rock.
Perhaps a reader can explain why the polarity of the minerals in the material is important.  You learn something every day.


  1. This great interview with a woman who was hit by debris from space was released just two days ago! https://gimletmedia.com/shows/every-little-thing/xjhdwxv/space-trash-is-it-coming-for-us

  2. Stan, the presence of magnetism in the rock would indicate that it formed inside a body (a planetesimal) large enough to have created a magnetic field, while the absence of same would indicate otherwise. But if a person disturbs/induces magnetism in the rock, that information is lost or more difficult to determine.

  3. Or... maybe use magnets to find meteorites? https://www.iflscience.com/space/how-hunt-micrometeorites/


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