Students from Khartoum lined up to begin the hunt
For the first time, scientists were able to track an asteroid from space to the ground and recover pieces of it. The bits are unlike anything ever found on Earth.
The asteroid was spotted entering Earth’s atmosphere over Sudan in October and was believed to have fully disintegrated, but an international team found almost 280 pieces of meteorite in a 11-square-mile section of Sudan’s Nubian Desert. The largest was the size of an egg. Lab analysis showed that the rocks belong to a rare class of asteroid that has never been sampled in such a pristine state, so it could fill some gaps in our understanding of the solar system’s early history…
Finding the meteorites was a long shot, but because the rocks would be so important, meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens of SETI, lead author of the study, took a bus loaded with 45 students and staff from the University of Khartoum deep into the desert to hunt for them. A 10-hour bus ride and an 18-mile trek through the sand took them to the remote area where scientists thought the rocks, if they existed,
would be. The group began sweeping the desert in a line and two hours later the first meteorite was found by a student.
“It was very, very exciting. Everybody was celebrating,” Jenniskens said. “You have to remember how important it is to find a piece linked to an asteroid we have seen in space.”
These fragments are pristine, virtually as they were through an eternity in space. Little time for any contamination by Earth minerals or oxidizers. Read the whole article.
What a fantastic experience, especially for those students.