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A new study published online in Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that our most common meteorites, those known as L chondrites, come from at least two different debris fields in the asteroid belt. The belt contains many debris fields created from former dwarf planets, or dwarf planets in the making, that collided long ago. These fragments, called asteroids, continue to collide, producing the meteorites that fall to Earth today.
"When meteorites fell near Creston, California on October 24, 2015, they initially seemed to be from the same debris field as those that fell 3 years earlier in Novato, 200 miles to the North," says lead author and meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens a SETI Institute researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California. "Both meteorites were classified as L chondrites of type L6 and shock stage S3."
Consortium - Scientists - Meteorites - Meteorite - Creston
An international consortium of 33 scientists compared the meteorites and found that the meteorite that fell in Creston managed to avoid collisions for a much longer period of time than those that previously fell in Novato.
"Before it fell to Earth, Creston had been in space for about 45 million years, while the Novato meteorites came from a much more recent collision, about 9 million years ago," says cosmochemist Kees Welten of UC Berkeley.
Scientists - Belt - Collisions - Family - Meteorites
Scientists are keen to find out where in the asteroid belt those collisions occurred, hoping to identify the asteroid family that spawns our most common meteorites. When the rock, the size of a large grapefruit, entered Earth's atmosphere near Creston, traveling at a speed of 16 kilometers per second, the blinding light of the fireball was photographed by an all sky camera in Sunnyvale.
"To track which direction and from what distance meteorites approach Earth, we operate automated all sky cameras in California," says Jenniskens. "The project is now part of a larger...
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