4 billion-year-old ‘fireball’ meteorite that blazed across sky lands in driveway

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A 'fireball' meteorite that lit up the night sky has been found after landing in a village driveway.

Astonished skywatchers in Gloucestershire reported seeing a trail across the skies on February 28, and it was first thought to have landed somewhere in the Cotswolds.

The giant space object was initially understood to have landed between Swindon Village and Bourton-on-the-Hill, according to the UK Meteor Network.

But it has now been confirmed it was discovered on a driveway in the market town of Winchcombe, GloucestershireLive reports.

Fragments of the space rock, the first to be recovered in the UK since 1991, have now been sent to the Natural History Museum.

Scientists say it could provide valuable insight into how our Solar System looked as it formed more than four billion years ago.

Professor Sara Russell, a researcher who studies meteorite at the museum, told Gloucestershire Live it was one of only 51 of its kind that had ever fallen from the sky.

She said: “This is really exciting.

“There are about 65,000 known meteorites in the entire world, and of those only 51 of them are carbonaceous chondrites that have been seen to fall like this one

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'It is almost mind-blowingly amazing, because we are working on the asteroid sample return space missions Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx, and this material looks exactly like the material they are collecting.

“I am just speechless with excitement.”

Both space missions have both spent years in space trying to intercept and sample asteroids.

Hayabusa2 returned to Earth in December 2020 with a little parcel of rock weighing only 4.5 grams, while OSIRIS-REx will return more than 60 grams in 2023.

Now a piece of the same type of rock weighing almost 300 grams has crashed down in a UK driveway.

The Natural History Museum expects it to be known as the Winchcombe meteorite, in honour of its landing place.

When a space rock falls to Earth it forms a fireball and burns brightly in the sky as it passes through the atmosphere.

Residents of the house where it landed heard a “rattling noise” outside in the evening only discovered the next morning.

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Dr Ashley King, a meteorite researcher at the Natural History Museum, said that the residents had done a “fantastic job” in collecting it.

He said: “For somebody who didn't really have an idea what it actually was, the finder did a fantastic job in collecting it.

“He bagged most of it up really quickly on Monday morning, perhaps less than 12 hours after the actual event. He then kept finding bits in his garden over the next few days.”

  • Asteroids
  • Space
  • Meteor

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