Pieces of ‘fireball’ meteorite that exploded over Mississippi are being found, NASA says | Environment

Parts of a burning meteor seen flying over southwestern Mississippi on April 27 are in the Natchez area, NASA said.

The “bright fireball” was traveling at 35,000 mph when it exploded at 8:03 a.m. with the “energy equivalent of 3 tons of TNT,” according to NASA Meteor Watch, the agency’s project that tracks fireball activity. .

“The current legislation establishes that every meteorite belongs to the owner of the property on which it fell; Out of respect for the privacy of those in the area, we will not disclose the location of these finds,” says NASA.

A photo of one of the meteorite pieces was shared on Facebook on May 2, and it resembled a deep black lump of coal with gray flecks. It probably hit the ground flying at “200-300 miles per hour,” experts say.

Bright flashes from the asteroid fragment were seen on the satellite early Wednesday morning, April 27, 2022, NASA scientists said. (image via NASA)

NASA says it is not playing a role in authenticating whether the discoveries are meteorites. The meteorite is believed to have been an asteroid fragment “about a foot in diameter weighing 90 pounds,” NASA said.

It was first seen 54 miles above the Mississippi River and disintegrated at a height of 34 miles, near the border of Adams and Franklin counties, NASA said. That’s slightly east of what was originally thought to be the meteorite’s path, which was originally thought to end in a swampy area of ​​Louisiana.

The same update noted that the number of witnesses has doubled, from 30 to more than 60 from Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas, the agency says.

meteor tracking

The fireball was reported at 8:03 a.m. Wednesday and moved parallel to the Mississippi River, officials said. It was heading southwest at 55,000 mph, breaking apart as it descended deeper into Earth’s atmosphere. Here is the track released by NASA. (image via NASA)

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“The fragmentation… created shock waves that propagated to the ground, producing the bangs and vibrations felt by people in the area,” according to NASA. “At its peak, the fireball was ten times brighter than the full moon.”

‘Worth a good amount of money’

Verified meteorites “can be worth a fair amount of money,” depending on the type, NASA said.

“However, most are ‘ordinary chondrites’ which are quite common,” says NASA.

And finding something of value is probably harder than you think.

“The pieces of this object were too small to leave a crater. Unlike what you see in the movies, meteorites are not ‘flaming rocks of doom’ that gouge holes in the ground. In fact, you can pick one up right after it hits the ground. So no smoking rocks in little craters.”

how to check rocks

NASA said it refuses to verify meteor discoveries. Instead, the agency is referring searchers to a Washington University in St. Louis website for help making a proper identification.

“We are not meteor people, as our main goal is to protect spacecraft and astronauts from meteors. Therefore, we will not be able to identify any strange rocks that you may find,” NASA said. “If confirmed, this will be the fifth recorded meteorite fall in Mississippi, the others occurring in 1854 (1857?), 1910, 1922, and 2012.”

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The Biloxi-based The Sun Herald covers the Mississippi Gulf Coast and is a NOLA.com news partner | The Times-Picayune. Read more at www.sunherald.com.

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