Meteorite found only a few days after impact on Earth

Fragment of the Botswana fireball. Photo: Peter Jenniskens

On June 02, 2018 a fireball exploded over Botswana / Modern technologies and field search helped to find a fragment of the celestial body

On June 02, 2018 asteroid 2018 LA turned into a fireball that detonated over Botswana a few seconds after entering Earth’s atmosphere. The incident had been witnessed by a number of spectators in Botswana and neighboring countries and was captured on numerous security cameras. Already on June 23, a team of experts from Botswana, South Africa, Finland and the US recovered a fragment of the celestial body in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

Asteroid 2018 LA had been discovered in space 8 hours before hitting Earth’s atmosphere. It had been detected by the Catalina Sky Survey which is operated by the University of Arizona and sponsored by NASA as part of its Planetary Defence mission.

This is the third time in history that an asteroid inbound to hit Earth was detected early and the second time that fragments were recovered.

After disruption, the pieces were blown by the wind while falling down, scattering over a wide area. Calculations of the landing area were done independently by a US-based group headed by Peter Jenniskens, a subject expert of the NASA-sponsored SETI Institute in California, as well as Esko Lyytinen and Jarmo Moilanen from the Finnish Fireball Network (FFN).

The fragment was found after 5 days of walking and scouring around in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve by a team of geoscientists from Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BUIST), Botswana Geoscience Institute (BGI) and the Okavango Research Institute (ORI). The Department of Wildlife and National Parks granted access and deployed rangers for protection and participation in the search.

The importance of the find is two-fold: It has enormous scientific value and it allows to better calibrate the so-called „Earth Defense“ against impacting asteroids.

The search for more fragments of the meteorite continues.

Meteorites are protected under Botswana law. Samples will be curated by the Botswana National Museum and investigated further by a research consortium of scientists coordinated by Botswana Geoscience Institute (BGI).

Botswana International University of Science and Technology

Finnish Fireball Network and University of Helsinki

(10.07.2018, USA: 07.10.2018)