Back in April, residents in Aguas Zarcas, a small town in Costa Rica, witnessed a “large fireball in the sky” approaching the city. It was a meteorite the size of a washing machine, but before hitting the ground, it broke into small pieces, raining over the city.
Scientists classified it as an “extraterrestrial mud ball,” and are still studying the pieces that were recovered. One of the pieces crashed through a resident’s roof, breaking his dining table! The rock weighed around two pounds.
Why is this meteoroid so important for scientists?
In a recent press release, the Arizona State University explains why these alien ‘mud balls’ are so important: “this meteorite belongs to a special group called “carbonaceous chondrites” that are rich in organic compounds and full of water.”
Laurence Garvie is a research professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. He explained that “many carbonaceous chondrites are mud balls that are between 80 and 95% clay.”
But what makes clays important is the water, that is “an integral part of their structure,” added Garvie, who is also a curator for Arizona State University’s Center for Meteorite Studies.
Scientists were able to recover 55 pounds of meteorites before rainfall could destroy them. They want to continue their research, and Professor Garvie and his team have already learned a bit about its origins:
“It formed in an environment free of life, then was preserved in the cold and vacuum of space for 4.56 billion years and then dropped in Costa Rica.”
The last carbonaceous chondrites meteorite to land on Earth was 50 years ago – in Australia in 1969.
Center Director Meenakshi Wadhwa noted that these rare meteorites are among the most sought-after alien rocks by researchers because they “contain the best-preserved clues to the origin of the solar system,” adding that this new meteorite is significant for their collection.
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