Meteors appear in Mississippi after a fireball over the state on April 27.
Linda Willsenbach Fries was among the people on Earth who spotted rocks that arose from a small object in space, while accompanying her husband, Mark Fries, meteor An expert in the Astronomical Materials Branch of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
“Mark and I, along with a group of scientists from around the country, will be studying these rocks over the coming months,” Willsenbach Fries, a science writer at Rice University in Texas, told Space.com by email. The husband and wife duo made the first two official discoveries of at least three that have been confirmed in the area.
The pair began their chase along Highway 84, where, based on radar data, several meteorites appear to have fallen. While the short grass was littered with “road gates” that had been kicked out by cars, Welzenbach-Fries found a potential candidate and her “cries” of excitement brought on her husband, who confirmed the discovery.
“There’s nothing wrong with a meteorite when you finally spot one,” she said. Fries found his space rock two hours later, not far from the first. Both discoveries were made on Saturday (April 30) and Welzenbach-Fries shared the images with NASA, which has been tracking the fallout from the event.
NASA has asked any meteorite hunters in the area to seek permission from landowners before conducting a search, and not to send any samples to the space agency for confirmation. (In general, local natural history museums or scholars may be able to help, depending on the area.)
The agency said the discoveries “east of Natchez” had been confirmed, but said it would not reveal further details about where they were tracked.
“Current law states that any meteorites belong to the owner of the property they fell on; out of respect for the privacy of those in the area, we will not disclose the locations of these finds,” NASA’s Meteor Watch Group Mentioned on Facebook.
The bright flash was so conspicuous that it was “one of the best signals” observed on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s geostationary lightning chart, said Bill Cook, chief of NASA’s Office of Meteorological Environments. GOES-17 Weather satellite, which monitors space storms in the Western Hemisphere.
Unfortunately, the daytime fireball has produced relatively few eyewitness reports and no known footage, making it difficult to track the mass or orbit of the original space object, Cook told Space.com.
“We don’t have enough data at this time to determine an accurate trajectory that is good enough to derive an orbit, but that may change in the future,” he said. “When you have a meteor fall, a lot of people like to search for as much data as possible.”
While scientists have yet to obtain the samples, Cook said the images show it appears to be an ordinary chondrite meteorite. Confirmation based on lab tests generally takes at least several weeks to achieve.
This is the fifth confirmed meteorite fall in Mississippi, according to A Database Cook said maintained by the Meteoritical Society.
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