UK meteor: Fragments of fireball likely made land after hitting Earth at 30,000mph

Meteor spotted in night sky over UK

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In the late hours of February 28, a meteor blast was seen across the UK as a small space rock entered the planet’s atmosphere. The blast caused a huge burst of light which could be seen throughout England, which was accompanied by a “yellow-green” tail as it streaked through the skies.

So far, more than 800 people in the UK reported the sighting to the International Meteor Organisation (IMO), which, according to UK meteor hunting group UKFALL – which is run by the University of Glasgow – is close to being the most reported meteor on the site of all time.

Researchers now believe the meteor fragmented as it hit Earth’s atmosphere, and some of the small pieces may have made landfall.

Analysis showed the fragments likely hit dropped around Gloucestershire.

Dr Luke Daly of the University of Glasgow and UKFAll said “This meteor fragmented a lot, as you can see in the videos.

“Most of the meteoroid vapourised during the six seconds of visible flight.

“However, with this one we think quite a few fragments probably reached the ground.

“If pieces landed, they are likely to have been on or just north of Cheltenham, out towards Stow-on-the-Wold. So most pieces are likely to be on farm land.”

Researchers have pleaded with any potential finders not to directly touch the fragments as to avoid any contamination.

Dr Katherine Joy of the University of Manchester advised: “If you do find a meteorite on the ground, ideally photograph it in place, note the location using your phone GPS, don’t touch it with a magnet, and, if you can, avoid touching it with your hands.

“Pick it up in a clean bag or clean aluminium foil if possible!”

However, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, scientists have urged the population to not breach lockdown rules.

A statement from UKFALL said: “If you find a piece on your farm or a road, please let us know. But don’t go hunting for it.”

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UKFALL has more than thirty meteor watching cameras across the UK.

By piecing together the videos, researchers were able to reveal the space rock hit Earth at 30,000 miles per hour at 9:54pm on Sunday, February 28.

Dr Ashley King of the Natural History Museum and UKFALL said: “The video recordings tell us its speed was about 30,000 miles per hour which is too fast for it to be human-made ‘space junk’, so it’s not an old rocket or satellite.

“The videos also allowed us to reconstruct its original orbit around the sun. In this case, the orbit was like an asteroid’s.

“This particular piece of asteroid spent most of its orbit between Mars and Jupiter, though sometimes got closer to the Sun than Earth is.”

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