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NASA Asking For Help Finding Meteorites

June 8, 2010

A meteor that lit up the Alabama night sky last month now has NASA calling for an all-out search of any meteorites that may have survived the impact.

The meteor blazed through the night sky on May 18 and was spotted by cameras at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville and the Walker County Science Center near Chickamauga, Georgia.

Experts have estimated that the chunk of space rock, which hailed from the asteroid belt, weighed around 60 pounds, though it most likely broke into pieces if any reached the ground.

“Expert opinion is that one or more pieces of this meteor survived to make it to the ground as meteorites, and calculations indicate that the area of the fall lies north of a line joining Woodville and Scottsboro,” officials at NASA said in a statement.

NASA is asking for anyone who saw the meteor, or those who may have seen where it landed, or picked up any unusual rocks in the vicinity, to contact the Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

The meteor was first picked up at an altitude of 47 miles over northwest Huntsville, Alabama, moving at roughly 8 miles per second toward the southeast. It was last detected northeast of Gurley at about 23 miles in altitude.

Calculations were automatically performed by tracking software and determined the meteor was from the main asteroid belt, moving in an orbit that takes it more than three times Earth’s distance from the sun.

Contact for the Meteoroid Environment Office: Dr. Bill Cooke at 256-544-9136 or by email at william.j.cooke@nasa.gov 

Image Caption: Composite photo of the meteor as seen from the Marshall Space Flight Center. Image credit: NASA/MSFC

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