Five US institutions to share meteorite pieces (Update)

August 21, 2013

Five U.S. institutions will share parts of a rare meteorite that exploded in a fireball over California last year, The Field Museum said Wednesday.

The meteor dates to the early formation of the solar system 4 to 5 billion years ago. It was probably about the size of a minivan when it entered the Earth's atmosphere on April 22, 2012 with a loud boom. It was seen from Sacramento, California, to Las Vegas and parts of northern Nevada.

Field Museum curator Philipp Heck said the institution will preserve the meteorite for "future generations of scientists who will be armed with analytical tools which we can only dream of today."

The Smithsonian cut the 205 gram meteorite into five sections that will go to five institutions: The Field Museum in Chicago; the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington; the American Museum of Natural History in New York; Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona; and the University of California-Davis.

Scientists plan to use the pieces for research. They used a CT scan to determine the meteor's age and chemical composition.

Private collector Robert Haag owned the meteorite and contacted Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of Arizona State University's Center for Meteorite Studies. She contacted the other institutions to discuss sharing the piece.

After the explosion it was possible that bits of the meteor were strewn over an area as long as 10 miles (16 kilometers), most likely stretching west from Coloma, where James W. Marshall first discovered gold in California, at Sutter's Mill in 1848.

Explore further: Smithsonian keeps meteorite that fell in Va.

Related Stories

Smithsonian keeps meteorite that fell in Va.

March 21, 2011

(AP) -- A small meteorite that crashed through the roof of a Virginia medical office last year is becoming part of the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History in Washington.

Field Museum in US to limit scientific research

December 19, 2012

Chicago's renowned Field Museum, a major center of global scientific research, has announced plans to cut staff scientists and curators, overhaul operations and limit its research scope because of a high debt load and the ...

Recommended for you

At Saturn, one of these rings is not like the others

September 2, 2015

When the sun set on Saturn's rings in August 2009, scientists on NASA's Cassini mission were watching closely. It was the equinox—one of two times in the Saturnian year when the sun illuminates the planet's enormous ring ...

Prawn Nebula: Cosmic recycling

September 2, 2015

Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later ...

Comet Hitchhiker would take tour of small bodies

September 2, 2015

Catching a ride from one solar system body to another isn't easy. You have to figure out how to land your spacecraft safely and then get it on its way to the next destination. The landing part is especially tricky for asteroids ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.