We're the Aussie scientists who recovered that older-than-earth meteorite (Desert Fireball Network) - Ask us anything!
We recently recovered our first meteorite using the new all digital network that we've developed fully in house. It's especially significant to us because confirms that the network and data reduction pipeline works end to end.
A few people had questions about how the whole thing works from spotting it on the cameras to finding the rock, so we're doing an AMA!
We dug it out of Kati-Thanda (Lake Eyre) South on New Year's Eve just as the rains were coming in that would have wiped away the evidence of where it landed (it would have probably been lost forever). You can read about the discovery here:
The Desert Fireball Network is a planetary science installation deployed across the Australian Outback to track meteoroids entering the Earth's atmosphere down to the ground. The camera network observes the meteors produced by the meteoroids as they ablate (burn up) in the atmosphere while slowing down from hypersonic velocities. Bright meteors like the kind that often produce meteorites (meteoroids that have made it all the way through the atmosphere to the Earth's surface) are called fireballs. Our camera's observe these fireballs from multiple locations which allows us to triangulate the trajectory through the atmosphere in three dimensions. This allows us to get a pre-atmospheric entry orbit (where it came from in the Solar System) and also estimate it's fall position and mass. We then conduct ground searches (usually on foot) in the Outback to recover the meteorites. Meteorites aren't particularly hard to come by (~50,000 in museum collections) but meteorites with orbits are extremely rare (about 20 in existence) and are much more valuable because we know where they come from, and they can potentially be matched up with a parent body.
Some coverage of our recent New Years Eve find:
We've got most of the team here answering questions starting at 0730 AWST (2330 UTC). Our flair indicates which part of the network we work on.
Phil Bland, Project Leader
rmhowie, Robert Howie, observatory design
Daly_Planet, Luke Daly, in situ analysis of nanometer scale structures in meteorites
morvan68, Martin Towner, network manager
ellieness, Ellie Sansom, trajectory modelling and mass estimation
haaadry, Hadrien Devillepoix, astrometry and lens calibration
PlanetOfLucy, Lucy Forman, lunar soils and micrometeorite analysis
Fireballsjay: Jay Ridgewell, community outreach coordinator
paxmaniac: Jon Paxman, engineering
Thanks for all the questions! We're going back to work for now (got to get back to pushing back the frontiers of human knowledge :P), but we'll check back after work today and tomorrow, so feel free to put your question down below, we just won't be able to get back to it for a couple of hours.
And if you happen to see any fireballs... don't forget to report them on our app! http://fireballsinthesky.com.au/download-app/