Thursday, March 26, 2009
For the first time, astronomers have recovered on Earth fragments of an asteroid that had been tracked in space. Asteroid 2008 TC3, the size of a telephone booth, was tracked until it vanished into Earth's atmosphere. Astronomer Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute's Carl Sagan Center correlated the object with eyewitness reports from the Sudan of a fireball exploding high in the atmosphere. 47 pieces were recovered from the Nubian Desert. The asteroid appears to belong to a rare and fragile type called F-class asteroids. Scientists are ecstatic about having pieces in hand to analyze the origin of these spacegoing mysteries.