Home Science Niagara area residents asked to search for space rocks after meteorite crash

Niagara area residents asked to search for space rocks after meteorite crash

by News Desk
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Maan Armidi, Canadian Press

Residents of the Niagara, Ontario area have been asked to be aware of meteorite debris that fell in the area this weekend.

The meteorite lit up the sky between Toronto and Hamilton early Saturday morning, sending out a sonic boom before collapsing in the atmosphere.

Peter Brown, a member of the Western Meteor Physics Group that monitors and studies meteors, said the meteorite weighed about 500 kilograms when it entered Earth’s atmosphere at about 3:25 a.m. said it was less than 1 meter.

He said it is very rare for scientists to be able to record the passage of such a space object in so much detail.

Such meteorites are impact debris from larger asteroids in the main asteroid belt, says Brown, who is also a physicist at Western University. It likely separated from a larger asteroid millions of years ago and drifted into the inner solar system before eventually colliding with our planet, he said.

“If we can retrieve this fragment, we will be able to link meteorites and fireballs to asteroids in space,” says Brown.

“This is very rare and, essentially,[it]has rarely been done before. It gives us a much deeper insight into what asteroids are like.”

Telescopes and asteroid-monitoring technology have improved in recent years, allowing researchers to detect the asteroid before it hits, Brown said.

“This asteroid has been discovered in space. It is the smallest asteroid ever detected in space,” he said.

“This was over 100,000 kilometers away when they detected it. I am emphasizing that there are

Brown says his group believes that a small fragment of the meteorite reached the southern shores of Lake Ontario around Grimsby and Vineland, while a larger fragment weighing several kilograms landed north of St. Catharines.

“Anything larger than about a kilogram or more will actually leave a hole. They will actually hit the ground fast enough to dig a small hole,” he said. rice field.

“It’s about going out and walking around the area looking for something.”

The meteorite fragments belong to the owners of the land on which they fell, so anyone wishing to see farms or private property should ask permission from the owner, Brown said.

Kim Tate, curator of mineralogy, meteorites and gems at the Royal Ontario Museum, said a group of researchers had surveyed the area over the weekend looking for space rocks, but had found none because of the snow. .

“Just from the weather conditions, they couldn’t find anything. It’s a fairly large area,” she said. “It’s like a needle in a haystack to be able to find it.”

Some of the snow has melted since then, which could help spot the meteorite’s black magnetic flakes, Tate said.

“If they’re out walking their dogs or out in the backyard and they see something they didn’t see the day before, they can call us and have them look at it.” she said.

“It’s got this black exterior, almost burnt…but a little more like glass. And very smooth. So this is kind of the first thing I look for.”

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on November 22, 2022.

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