Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Almahata Sitta Meteorites: Triple Asteroid Crash

The black fragment of Almahata Sitta meteorite number 15 shows up black against the lighter coloured rocks of the Nubian desert in northern Sudan.

CREDIT: Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute/NASA Ames)

Meteorites that fell over Sudan in 2008 could have come from a space rock that was formed by a triple-asteroid pileup, a collision between three different types of space rocks, a new study finds.

Scientists analysed meteorite fragments that fell to Earth exactly three years ago today, on Oct. 7, 2008, and found that they contain an unusual mix of material from both primitive and evolved types of asteroids.

"Because falls of meteorites of different types are rare, the question of the origin of an asteroid harboring both primitive and evolved characteristics is a challenging and intriguing problem," study leader Julie Gayon-Markt, of the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur in France.

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