Aug 3, 2009 | 3
The indefatigable Opportunity rover, still motoring across the Red Planet five years into its mission, recently came across what may be a large meteorite sitting on the Martian surface.
The 0.6-meter rock, dubbed Block Island [detail below], would not be the first meteorite discovered on Mars by the rover, but would be notable for its size. Block Island is nearly twice as long as the meteorite known colloquially as Heat Shield Rock and formally designated Meridiani Planum, which Opportunity spotted in 2005. That meteorite was the first to be found on another planet and remains the only one formally accepted by the Meteoritical Society. (Meridiani Planum was found on a plain of the same name; the Meteoritical Society's convention is to name meteorites for a nearby geographic feature.)
Feb 19, 2009
Meteorite hunters from the University of North Texas (UNT) have scooped up what may be two pieces of the object that lit up the skies over Austin on Sunday. Ronald DiIulio, director of UNT's planetarium and astronomy lab, and Preston Starr, the university's observatory manager, told news outlets that they found two pecan-size fragments yesterday near the town of West, about 20 miles north of Waco.
"The pieces that we found have beautiful ablation crust," DiIulio told the Associated Press, referring to the fusion crust formed by the extreme temperatures of atmospheric entry. "And it's black like charcoal. Underneath this crust the color of the rock is concrete like gray." (A phone call to DiIulio's office was not immediately returned.)
Dec 1, 2008 | 3
Dozens of remnants of the fireball that lit up Canadian skies last month have turned up in western Canada, according to a researcher leading the hunt. Alan Hildebrand, a professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Calgary, told ScientificAmerican.com today that around 50 pieces of the object have now been found, the largest of which weighs roughly 28.5 pounds (13 kilograms). The meteor's brilliant trajectory was caught on film November 20 by unsuspecting videographers.
Over the weekend multiple news outlets reported that the search team had discovered remnants of the meteor near Lloydminster, a town of about 25,000 that straddles the border between the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Associated Press reports that a meteorite collector and dealer in Tucson, Ariz., had offered a bounty of up to $9,700 for the first fragment weighing at least 2.2 pounds (one kilogram). Hildebrand says he's not sure if any of the pieces are for sale but that he has informed the landowners where fragments were found of their potential value. Meteorites act as postcards from space in a sense, providing clues to the evolution of the solar system and the composition of distant objects.
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