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March's Meteorite of the Month is Peckelsheim, an achondrite (diogenite-pm) that fell the afternoon of March 3, 1953.
According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 46), a group of workers in the forest outside of Peckelsheim, Germany, heard "a whine similar to that of shell-splinter" around 2:30 PM. The meteorite hit a tree branch, and landed at the feet of the workers.
Peckelsheim is classified as a diogenite-pm, meaning that it is a polymict breccia from the diogenite group. Part of the HED (Howardites, Eucrites and Diogenites) group of achondrites, diogenites are believed to originate in the crust of Asteroid 4-Vesta. According to radioisotope dating, the HED achondrites crystallized between 4.43 and 4.55 billion years ago. Diogenites are plutonic igneous rocks that form deep in the crust and cool very slowly, resulting in large crystals.
They are named for the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes, who was the first to suggest that meteorites were not terrestrial rocks, and actually originated in space.
Approximately 118 g (just over 4 oz) of the Peckelsheim meteorite were recovered.
In 2007, NASA launched the Dawn mission to study Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres. The mission's goal was to provide insight into the formation and evolution of solid bodies in the early Solar System using a visible camera, a visible and infrared mapping spectrometer, and a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer. The extremely detailed images Dawn captured of Vesta's surface enabled the compiliation of high-resolution global geological and tectonic maps of Vesta.
Watch the video below for some of the Dawn mission's greatest hits from Vesta!
January's Meteorite of the Month is Benton, an (LL6) ordinary chondrite that fell in York County, New Brunswick, in 1949.
The Benton meteorite's fiery entry into Earth's atmosphere was witnessed January 16, in overcast twilight conditions, and the meteorite itself was quickly collected.
Benton is the only meteorite from New Brunswick. To date, 2.84 kg (6¼ lb) have been recovered.
December's Meteorite of the Month is Ourique, an (H4) ordinary chondrite that fell in the early hours December 28, 1998, in Aldea del Palhieros, Baixa Alentejo, Portugal.
November's Meteorite of the Month is Manitouwabing, an iron (IIIAB) meteorite found south of Manitouwabing Lake, Ontario, Canada, in November of 1962.
In his 1964 paper, The Metallography of Manitouwabing, Parry Sound, Ontario: A New Canadian Siderite, R. Knox Jr. describes how the meteorite was identified:
About a dozen years ago Philip Johnson, a furniture manufacturer of Parry Sound, Ontario, did some blasting on his property near Lake Manitouwabing, between the villages of Hurdville and Broadbent in the Parry Sound District. Some of the rocks loosened by the blast were selected for mineral assaying; the remainder were placed in a pile and all but forgotten until the autumn of 1962, when Johnson returned to the pile for additional samples. Among these latter, … was an eighty-five pound black rock, which, Johnson feels, was not part of the original pile.
Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Donald Hunter, an amateur geologist, … visited the Johnson shop on camp business. She chanced to see the peculiar black rock and, thinking it might be a meteorite, promptly notified the University of Toronto. Dr. Peter Peach and Dr. Donald Gorman, both of the University's Department of Geology, visited Parry Sound and confirmed Mrs. Hunter's diagnosis.
While the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 26) entry for Manitouwabing lists the original fall date as no earlier than the summer of 1949, Knox's 1964 paper refers to "considerable evidence – not yet conclusive -" that would suggest the meteorite fell on an early winter morning in 1954.
The Manitouwabing meteorite weighs in at 39 kg (86 lb), and is one of 8 iron meteorites recovered in the Canadian province of Ontario.
October's Meteorite of the Month is Hamlet, an ordinary (LL4) chondrite that fell the evening of October 13th, 1959, in Indiana.
According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 17):
The meteorite struck a house, breaking off a piece of the gutter, and was found in the yard about 30 minutes after its fall. The stone has a conical shape; however, a piece broke off the apex before it was recovered and is still missing.
Four years later, the missing piece was found in a farm pasture approximately 0.4 km (~ 1/4 mile) from where the first stone was recovered (MB 34). The two Hamlet stones had a combined mass of 3.71 kg (8.2 lb).
September 28th marks the 50th anniversary of the Murchison meteorite fall, one of the most scientifically important in human history. This carbonaceous (CM2) chondrite was witnessed entering Earth's atmosphere the between 10:45 and 11:00 AM, in Victoria, Australia. The meteorite broke up as it fell, and several fragments were recovered, totalling over 100 kg (220 lb). Some specimens landed on a road, but the largest recovered piece fell through a roof, into some hay.
Murchison fell shortly after brand new clean laboratories were assembled in anticipation of the Apollo lunar sample return mission, providing a contaminant-free environment in which to study this organic-rich meteorite.
It was by studying Murchison that a team of researchers including Center Founding Director Dr. Carleton B. Moore discovered the first evidence of extraterrestrial amino acids in 1970 (Kvenvolden et al.). A later study showed evidence for the presence of important components of DNA and RNA, called nucleobases, in Murchison (Martins et al., 2008), and the findings of a 2018 paper authored by ASU Emeritus Professor Sandra Pizzarello and Dr. Christopher Yarnes suggest that chiral molecules necessary for life may have come to Earth via meteorites such as Murchison.
Fifty years after its fall, the Murchison meteorite remains one of the most studied space rocks, and is still the subject of active research at ASU.
In a recent video produced by National Public Radio's Science Friday, Center Meteorite Curator Dr. Laurence Garvie discusses the importance of meteorites, including Murchison, and even describes the meteorite's particular odor – click here to watch.
Could Murchison and meteorites like it hold the key to how life formed on Earth? Visit the Meteorite Gallery to see this fascinating meteorite on display!
August's Meteorite of the Month is Breitscheid, an ordinary (H5) chondrite that fell the afternoon of August 11, 1956, in Hesse, Germany.
According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 2):
The fall of the meteorite was observed as a short, light yellow, somewhat reddish fiery trail. Judging by the broken branches of trees and the aspect of the hole, it may be concluded that the meteorite fell from west to east at an angle of 45°. During the fall, sounds were heard resembling a locomotive letting out steam. No crash was heard. The meteorite was found 30 min. after its fall. The person who discovered the stone thought it must have fallen from an aeroplane that had recently flown past and that it was of no scientific value whatever.
To date, 1.5 kg (33 lb) of the Breitscheid meteorite have been recovered.
July's Meteorite of the Month is Thuathe, an ordinary (H4/5) chondrite that fell in Lesotho the afternoon of July 21, 2002.
According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 87), the meteorite exploded over Lesotho, approximately 12 km east of the capital city of Maseru.
The explosion was accompanied by an extraordinarily loud, 15 s long noise which was heard over a large (100 km radius) area of Lesotho; the fall was eye-witnessed by several people who reported sightings of dust trails of "sparkling objects" over Lesotho and the southern part of the Free State Province of South Africa. Many villagers of Ha Ralimo, Boqate Ha Majara, and Boqate Ha Sofonia reported falls of stones close to themselves and onto their homes.
To date, over 45 kg (almost 100 lb) of the Thuathe meteorite have been recovered.