December 18, 2011 by staff
Many Canadians were looking upward during the Geminid meteor shower when a bright fireball was spotted just after 6 p.m., by six cameras from the University of Western Ontario southern Ontario meteor network.
It was no bigger than a basketball and entered the earth’s atmosphere at 14 km per second, experts say, leaving a green trail across the night sky.
Researchers say the meteorite likely landed 31 km south of the town of Selwyn, and may have dropped debris nearby. The video data suggests the end mass of the meteorite may total as much as a few kilograms, likely in the form of many fragments in one gram to hundreds of a gram size range.
Experts hope to track down pieces of the meteorite captured on video for research.
“Finding a meteorite from a fireball captured by video is equivalent to a planetary sample return mission,” said Peter Brown, the director of Western’s Centre for Planetary and Space Exploration.
“We know where the object comes from in our solar system and can study it in the lab. Only about a dozen previous meteorite falls have had their orbits measured by cameras so each new event adds significantly to our understanding of the small bodies in the solar system. In essence, each new recovered meteorite is adding to our understanding of the formation and evolution of our own solar system.”
Gaurav Sethi was out for his evening run in Niagara Falls Monday night when he saw a strange fireball in the sky.
“It looked like a fireball with a green trail,” he said. “It looked like a firework sputtering out.”
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