NASA has launched an all-out search for any meteorites that may have survived from a bright fireball that streaked over northeastern Alabama last month. And the space agency wants your help.
The blazing meteor lit up the Alabama sky on May 18 and was spotted by all-sky cameras at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville and the Walker County Science Center near Chickamauga, Ga.
Scientists estimate the space rock, which came from the asteroid belt, weighed about 60 pounds (27 kilograms), though it may have broken into pieces if any reached the ground. [Spectacular meteor shower photos.]
"Expert opinion is that one or more pieces of this meteor survived to make it to the ground as meteorites, and calculations indicate that the area of the fall lies north of a line joining Woodville and Scottsboro," NASA officials said in a statement.
NASA is asking residents who saw the meteor, or those who may have noticed or picked up an unusual rock in the vicinity, to contact the Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
The meteor was first picked up at an altitude of 47 miles (76 kilometers) over northwest Huntsville, Ala., moving at a speed of 8 miles per second (13 kilometers per second) toward the southeast. It was last visibly detected northeast of Gurley at an altitude of 23 miles (37 kilometers).
The meteor was quite bright, rivaling that of the waxing crescent moon — a phase of the moon in which the illuminated surface increases, NASA officials said.
Calculations that were automatically performed by the tracking software indicate that this cosmic interloper was from the main asteroid belt, moving in an orbit which takes it more than three times Earth's distance from the sun.
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