NASA Hunts for Mysterious Meteorite in the Pacific

Why is NASA hunting for a meteorite in the Pacific Ocean with a submarine? Wait, let’s back up a minute. Why does NASA have a submarine? And why isn’t it looking for asteroids BEFORE they plunge through the Earth’s atmosphere? Inquiring minds in Siberia, Africa, Michigan and other areas recently hit by meteorites would like to know.

Back to the Pacific meteorite hunt. The story begins on March 7, 2018, when residents of Grays Harbor County on Washington’s Pacific coast reported a sonic boom. The boom was loud enough to register on the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network seismometers around 7 pm. The Seattle Times reported that eyewitnesses on the coast saw a flash and three National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather stations detected a meteorite 16 miles off the coast. After seeing the report, Marc Fries, the Cosmic Dust Curator at NASA Johnson Space Center (nice work if you can get it), called it “the largest meteorite fall I’ve seen in 20-plus years of radar data.”

Based on the amount and quality of the data, Fries estimated that about 4,400 lbs. (2,000 kg) of meteorite pieces, with the largest weighing 9.7 pounds (4.4 kg) and measuring 5 inches (12 cm) in diameter, survived the fall and are somewhere on the ocean floor. Well, not ‘somewhere’ — Fries was able to narrow the location down to one square km (.38 sq. miles) at a shallow depth of 100 meters (300 feet). If only NASA had a submarine …

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