Rock & Gem

A New Technique for Recovering Elusive Meteorites


When zooming through the atmosphere as a ƒfireball, a rock from space is called a meteor. Should it achieve landfall, it becomes a meteorite and an object of desire. O en, it breaks up in the sky and falls in multiple pieces across an area known as a strewn ƒeld. Very soon a er an observed fall, strewn ƒelds get scoured by both scientists seeking a wealth of knowledge and amateur collectors and dealers seeking a wealth of dollars given the price that meteorites command. Now, a new “anomaly detector” technique is being employed in the search.

ThŠe technique employs drones that fan out to photograph an area where a meteorite is presumed to have fallen based on photos of a ƒfireball and/or eyewitness accounts. Researcher­s then feed these high-resolution photos into a computer program that includes an algorithm, or machine-learning technique, to detect anything anomalous or unusual on the ground.

ŠThe technique, recently described in the magazine Physics World, was used by Seamus Anderson (Curtin University, Australia) and his team to scour an area of Western Australia nearly two square miles in extent where a ƒfireball had been witnessed streaking over the sky. While pointing researcher­s to “tin cans, bottles, and snakes,” it also led them to the fragment of a fresh meteorite so small it ƒts comfortabl­y in the palm of a hand.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States