(ORDO NEWS) — Both falls were captured by the Desert Fireball Network (DFN) team, which uses cameras across Australia to observe shooting stars and predict where meteorites will land.
The team, which usually conducts searches from March to October, was postponed due to COVID-19, but after the restrictions were lifted, they noticed another meteorite fall south of the Eyre Highway near Madura.
Astronomer Dr. Adrien Devillepo and planetary geologist Dr. Anthony Lagaine initially went on a reconnaissance mission to assess the site of the last crash near Madura by capturing drone images of the area.
Dr. Devillepo said that as they were returning to their car on the old telegraph track near Madura Cave, they noticed something on the ground in front of them that looked like a real meteorite.
“I thought Anthony was pranking me that he planted one of the fake meteorites we used during drone training. But upon closer inspection, it became apparent that the 1.1 kilogram fist-sized rock we had just found was indeed the meteorite we were looking for, ”said Dr. Devillepo.
Dr. Devillepo explained that although the meteorite was very close to the intended impact site, the team did not expect to find it so quickly in the area.
“Most meteorites contain a lot of metallic iron, much more than normal terrestrial rocks. This is why meteorites usually attract a magnet or make the compass go crazy,” said Dr. Devillepois.
“However, the meteorite we found almost completely fails the compass test – the compass needle almost does not deviate, which is really intriguing. The next step is for us to figure out why this is happening and what makes this meteorite different from the meteorites we know about.”
Dr. DeVillepo explained that the fireball cameras not only allow the team to calculate where the meteorites are landing, but also allow them to track where they came from and what orbit they were in before they fell to Earth.
“We were able to determine that this meteorite was orbiting the Aton, which means that before it hit Earth, the meteorite spent most of its time in the innermost part of the solar system, between Venus and Earth,” said Dr. Devillepois …
“This type of orbit is unusual because because most meteorites come from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, they usually maintain an orbital connection with this region of space.”
Two weeks later, Dr. Martin Towner, Operations Team Leader, led a team of six to find the crash site in November 2019. This fall it was northwest of Forrest Airport in downtown Nullarbor.
After just four hours of searching, they found 300 grams of a meteorite that DFN saw came on the night of November 18th, 2019.
This one came from a radically different orbit, pointing to the middle of the main asteroid belt. The team is now working to uncover the secrets of these two stones.
Distinguished Professor John Curtin Phil Bland, director of the Center for Space Science and Technology, explained that his team can learn more about meteorites on Earth by analyzing data gathered from strategically located observatories with cameras known as the Desert Fireball Network (DFN).
“DFN cameras continuously take pictures of the sky every night, and when more than one station detects a fireball, we receive a warning and then analyze this data to learn more about the fireball,” said Professor Bland.
“This includes the direction in which the fireball was moving in relation to the stars, whether it survived or burned out when it entered the Earth’s atmosphere, where it came from in outer space, and where it landed. And then we try to find it. ”
Dr Eleanor Sansom, DFN Project Manager, said that while these rapid advances make meteorites easy to find, it is an incredible achievement.
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