Where do meteorites come from?
Meteorites are rocks from space that tell us about the history of our Solar System. In an amazing turn of events, in February 2021 a meteorite landed on a driveway near Gloucestershire, and the local community and scientists were quick to collect it and study it. Whereabouts in space did this special rock come from, and what might it tell us?
The UK Fireball Alliance (UKFAll) was established in 2018 in order to increase the probability of recovering meteorite falls. The organisation brings together 6 camera networks around the UK which are set up to spot extremely bright meteors, phenomena which are called ‘fireballs’ and which may indicate something from space has landed on the ground. Although the UK is surrounded by sea and is blessed with notoriously cloudy skies, around 3 meteorites >100g should fall on the country every year and UKFAll was established to help recover such new falls. The arrival of the Winchcombe meteorite on 28th February 2021 marked the recovery of the first UK fall in thirty years. Indeed, the UK to date has a mere 19 meteorite falls, around half as many as Germany and less than a third of those seen to fall in France. The Winchcombe meteorite recovery and analysis was a ground-breaking effort by the the UK planetary science community, local community, and wider international colleagues. It has also been an invaluable opportunity to inform the wider public about what meteorites are, how they are older than anything on Earth, where they come from and what they can tell us about the history of our solar system.