- “This is the first time since 1991 that a piece of space rock has landed and been recovered in the U.K.”
- The fireball was reported by hundreds of people on February 28, 2021.
- Meteorites like this are relics from the early Solar System, which means they can tell us what the planets are made of.
A “fireball” meteorite that landed in a driveway in the United Kingdom last month could provide a glimpse into what the solar system looked like as it was forming about 4.6 billion years ago, scientists announced Tuesday.
The extraterrestrial rock, which is now in the possession of the Natural History Museum in London, is “incredibly rare,” the museum said in a statement.
“This is the first time since 1991 that a piece of space rock has landed and been recovered in the U.K. and marks an incredibly rare and exciting moment,” the museum said.
Lasting about six seconds, the fireball was reported by hundreds of people on Feb. 28, 2021, as it was recorded on doorbell cameras and car dashcams and picked up by a dedicated network of cameras across the U.K. trained at the sky for precisely this kind of event.
The original space rock was traveling at over 31,000 mph before hitting the Earth’s atmosphere and ultimately landing on a driveway in Winchcombe, CNN said. Other pieces of the meteorite have been recovered in the local area.
Wow:A ‘space hurricane’ hovered above the North Pole for about 8 hours, study says
“This is really exciting,” said Sara Russell, a researcher at the museum. “There are about 65,000 known meteorites in the entire world, and of those only 51 of them are carbonaceous chondrites that have been seen to fall like this one.”
Carbonaceous chondrites originated from asteroids that formed when the planets themselves were only just being born as dust and ice swirling around the early solar system began to coalesce, the museum said.
“Meteorites like this are relics from the early solar system, which means they can tell us what the planets are made of,” Russell said. “But we also we think that meteorites like this may have brought water to the Earth, providing the planet with its oceans.”
While scientists are unable to pinpoint the exact asteroid the meteorite originated from, they do know that the meteorite came from the outer regions of the asteroid belt that is found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
“I have always daydreamed that there would be a carbonaceous chondrite (meteorite), but you don’t really expect that to happen at all,” Russell said.
“It is absolutely a dream come true,” she said.