Meteorite from Sept. 25 fireball event recovered and presented

Oct 16, 2009
Composite all-sky camera image of the end of the fireball as seen from Hamilton (Camera #3, McMaster). Available below are movies of the event as seen by several of the SOMN cameras, as well as animations of the object's arrival at Earth. [click to enlarge]

When Tony Garchinski heard a loud crash just after 9 p.m. on Friday, September 25 he didn't think much of it. That is, until he awoke the next morning to find the windshield of his mom's Nissan Pathfinder with a huge crack in it. Making note of the 'unusual' rocks he later found on the car's hood, Garchinski chalked the incident up to vandalism and filed a police report.

It wasn't until two weeks later that his mother, Yvonne Garchinski, heard media reports that researchers from The University of Western Ontario were searching West Grimsby, Ont. for possible fragments of a freshly fallen meteorite. The Garchinskis realized who the real culprit was in the case of the broken windshield -- or more specifically, what.

The 'what' was a 46-gram (approx. the size of a golf ball) completely fusion-crusted (melted exterior) fragment of an 'ordinary chondrite' meteorite. Chondrites are arguably the most important type of meteorite because they are the least processed of meteorites and provide a window into the material which formed the early solar system.

The meteorite is estimated to be 4.6 billion years old.

Western Associate Professor Peter Brown, an expert in the study of and meteorite falls, and Phil McCausland, a postdoctoral fellow at Western's Centre for & Exploration, presented the found meteorite to the media today at the Garchinski home in Grimsby, with the family on hand to tell their remarkable story.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
amera #04 Tavistock

McCausland has been leading the university's ground search since seven 'all-sky' cameras of Western's Southern Ontario Meteor Network (SOMN) captured rare video footage of the meteor event on September 25.

"Having both the video and the sample is golden because we get the dynamic information and the orbital direction from the video, and by having recovered material on the ground, we can complete the picture. We can take a rock that we now have in hand and we can study it in the best laboratories in the world and we can put it back into its solar system context. We can put it back into where it came from," explains McCausland. "In all of history, only about a dozen meteorite falls have that kind of record."

Brown says, "Scientifically, it's equivalent to a sample return mission, which is sending a spacecraft out to a known location in the and bringing back a sample. In this case though, the sample comes to us. We don't have to spend huge sums of money to send a spacecraft to get the sample.

"We've worked out the orbit, where it came from, so it becomes a material within context. It's like a geologist who can pick up a rock which may be interesting, but if you know where it came from, that context, it means so much more. Most meteorites - we don't have the context. This one we do."

Yvonne Garchinski has loaned the 'pristine' meteorite sample to Western but it remains her property as meteorites found in Canada belong to the owner of the land upon which they are discovered.

The Western-led search continues in West Grimsby and both Brown and McCausland believe more meteorite fragments will be found. In fact, the Garchinski property is a mere 200 meters off the fall line of the the Western Meteor Physics Group calculated using data from its video, radar and sound detection systems.

Meteorites may best be recognized by their dark and scalloped exterior, and are usually denser than normal rock and will often attract a fridge magnet due to their metal content. Meteorites may be found in a small hole produced by their fall into soil.

Meteorites are not dangerous, but any recovered meteorites should be placed in a clean plastic bag or container and be handled as little as possible to preserve their scientific information.

Related story: Astronomers capture spectacular meteor footage and images (w/ Video)

Source: University of Western Ontario

Explore further: SpaceX launches supplies to space station

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

University of Western Ontario cameras capture 'fireball'

Oct 24, 2008

For the second time this year, The University of Western Ontario Meteor Group has captured incredibly rare video footage of a meteor falling to Earth. The team of astronomers suspects the fireball dropped meteorites in a ...

Unusual meteorite found in Antarctica

Sep 19, 2006

U.S. scientists say they recovered an unusual meteorite late last year in Antarctica -- a type of lunar meteorite seen only once before.

Manitoba meteorite hunter scores again

Jul 18, 2005

A new meteorite identified by the Prairie Meteorite Search is posing a mystery about why so many meteorites have been found in eastern Manitoba, and has set a new Canadian record for the man behind the latest ...

Recommended for you

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

19 hours ago

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

22 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

22 hours ago

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

Apr 18, 2014

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ealex
not rated yet Oct 16, 2009
"Meteorites are not dangerous"

Yeah nothing dangerous about a flaming golf ball falling on your head from 10000 feet.

Seriously though, 4.6 billion years, that's pretty much as old as the Earth. I'd have problems parting with that piece of rock. I have a 400 million year old trilobite sitting in my living room (probably a fake, but I can't bring myself to cut it in half) and I'm proud as hell to have it.
RobertKLR
not rated yet Oct 16, 2009
Some prankster vandal found a piece of the meteor and smashed the old lady's windshield with it. Dastardly!

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...