Researchers discover field littered with meteorites

(ORDO NEWS) — A field team led by Professor Andy Tomkins of Monash University discovered the largest meteorite-strewn field in Australia since the famous Murchison meteorite hit in 1969.

On July 31, 2013, US Department of Defense satellites recorded an unusually strong atmospheric explosion, which, according to researchers, was caused by a 6-ton asteroid with a diameter of 1.5 meters.

Dr. Adrien Devillepoix of the Curtin University Center for Space Science and Technology (SSTC) acknowledged the possibility of meteorite detection from this explosion.

The Bureau of Meteorology recently made its weather radar data publicly available for research. With their help, it became possible to track the fall of meteorites to determine the search area on the ground.

Dr. Devillepois calculated the likely impact zone, a six-kilometer-long ellipse north of Port Augusta, South Carolina.

A field team from Monash, led by Professor Tomkins, went to the site and discovered the first meteorites within 10 minutes of searching. In a few days, 44 meteorites with a total mass of just over four kilograms were discovered.

Field team member Seamus Anderson recently developed a new technique for identifying meteorites in drone images using machine learning.

“This is an amazing opportunity to improve our approach to meteorite extraction. It usually takes hundreds of hours for a search party to completely search such a large area.

A drone can do this in less than a day,” Anderson said. “This is the world’s first use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to map a meteorite-strewn field.”

Monash researchers carefully collected the meteorites to avoid any contamination from outside the natural environment where they were found. Scientists plan to conduct the first study of how microbes interact with a recently fallen meteorite.

Experts are now conducting further research and hope to apply radar technology to other meteorite falls.

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