NASA and NOAA researchers announced that they may have discovered fragments of a meteorite in the depths of the ocean.
On March 7, a meteorite crashed down in the Pacific Ocean after lighting up skies over Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. Four months later, a team of researchers set off to find the fallen meteorite. On July 1, researchers aboard Exploration Vessel Nautilus investigated seafloor off the coast of Washington by using multibeam sonar but they could not find anything substantial. The following day, two remote-controlled submarines – the Hercules and the Argus – were deployed to locate the site of the meteorite. The survey lasted around seven hours.
While exploring the site, researchers picked up several sediment samples with the help of suction hose, magnetic plate and sediment scoop. When researchers analyzed those samples in the lab, they found trace of extraterrestrial origin in two of those pieces.
Each fragment is about 2 to 3 millimeters large and they likely came from “meteorite exterior that melted and flowed like glaze on pottery as it entered the atmosphere.” If confirmed, they would be the first meteorite fragments retrieved from the ocean.
“The meteorite fragments are small, melted pieces of rock,” said NASA Cosmic Dust Curator Dr. Marc Fries. They are “basically made of glass, and such flash-melted glassy materials do not tend to last long in seawater. It’s some evidence that they came from something that fell.”
Researchers will perform a more detailed analysis of the meteorite fragments and determine if they actually came from the massive meteorite recently dropped into the Pacific Ocean.