Asteroid discovery: Space rock found rich in alien compounds
Asteroids are always present in space either traveling across the cosmos or simply orbiting other celestial bodies. Recent research has revealed that these space rocks have so much more than the many compounds and elements that we have.
In 2018, scientists scrambled to obtain an asteroid that landed on a frozen lake in Michigan. With the use of NASA’s weather radar, they managed to find the crash site and collect the fallen space rock in pristine condition and astronomers have since analyzed its composition. They found that the meteor was abundant in alien compounds, perhaps unlike anything they had ever seen here on Earth, but it likely played a role in building life on our planet.
“This meteorite is special because it fell onto a frozen lake and was recovered quickly,” said Professor Philipp Heck of the University of Chicago who was also the lead author of the paper in a statement. “It was very pristine. We could see the minerals weren’t much altered and later found that it contained a rich inventory of extraterrestrial organic compounds. These kinds of organic compounds were likely delivered to the early Earth by meteorites and might have contributed to the ingredients of life.”
The asteroid was collected by meteor hunter Robert Ward and along with Terry Boudreaux, they donated the fragments to the Field Museum where Professor Heck and graduate student Jennika Greer studied the space rock. They determined that the asteroid is an H4 chondrite, a very rare type of meteor as only around four percent of asteroids that have collided with Earth are of this kind.
Speaking of Earthbound asteroids, a fireball was seen over the night skies of northwestern America and southwestern Canada the previous weekend on October 26. Those who were able to witness the spectacular phenomenon reported their sighting to the International Meteor Organization or IMO. Some witnesses described it as the biggest and brightest they had ever seen.
Photos and videos that were taken of the sighting show a bright streak of light on the left side of the night sky. Fireballs or shooting stars are a result of a very small asteroid hitting our atmosphere as it would be the first time the space rock has met resistance. The air seeps into every crack and crevice of the rock, pushing everything apart and making it explode.