On February 28th 2021 a bright fireball streaked across the night sky of the United Kingdom, depositing rocky fragments, known as meteorites, in Gloucestershire, England. After a member of the public came forward to report that some of this special space rock had landed on their property, an Open University scientist was quickly on the scene to collect the rare sample; the first UK meteorite in 30 years. The Open University has a long history of analysing rocks from space, whether they be from planets such as Mars, the Moon or asteroids and comets. Along with a team of scientists at organisations across the world, Open University scientists are involved with the analyses of the Winchcombe meteorite to find out where it came from and what it can tell us about the origin and history of the Solar System.
Image/ footage attribution and thanks to:
Video of fireball meteor CC BY-SA 4.0 from 28 February 2021 at 9:55PM: https://ukmeteornetwork.co.uk/
Meteorite in ice: © Katherine Joy / The University of Manchester https://ukantarcticmeteorites.wordpress.com/
Fireball trajectory: © Google Earth
Solar System schematic CC BY-SA 4.0: Universe Today
Asteroid collision animation: © NASA
Artist impression of Hayabusa2 CC BY-2.0: DLR German Aerospace Center on Flickr
OSIRIS-REx footage: © NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
More academic insights on meteorites
Here is the fascinating story of the events that led up to the recovery of the first UK meteorite in 30 years, with firsthand reports from Dr Richard Greenwood, the scientist who confirmed that the rocks found in the small town of Winchcombe originated in space.
Here Dr Natalie Starkey catches up with PhD student Ross Findlay about being the first person to make laboratory analyses of the Winchcombe meteorite.
Professor Monica Grady reveals how the Winchcombe meteorite was found and what it can teach us about the origins of life.
Where does space dust come from? Dr Natalie Starkey explains in this article.
Right now there are two active asteroid sample-return missions in space...
Ross Findlay, a Cosmochemistry PhD Student in The School of Physical Sciences, explores different types of meteorites which have landed across our planet.
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