METEORITE. The asteroid that exploded upon entering the atmosphere on February 12 has been observed in France, England and Belgium. Three days later, a 5cm fragment was found in Normandy by a group of enthusiasts.

[Updated Feb 21, 2023 12:34 PM] On February 12, an asteroid was spotted by a Hungarian astronomer who quickly raised the alarm. Seven hours later, many amateurs scanning the sky in search of the object could observe this fireball crossing the sky in the form of a particularly luminous shooting star. The asteroid, named 2023 CX1 by NASA, then fragmented into smaller pieces that ended up in Normandy near Dieppe. It was enough to arouse the curiosity of space enthusiasts who organized themselves to comb the territory in search of these pebbles fallen from the sky.

On February 17, 2023, it was finally an art student belonging to a group of researchers and amateurs who discovered the first piece of asteroid in a field in Normandy. The meteorite measures approximately 5 cm and weighs 100 grams. Brigitte Zanda, researcher at the Museum of Natural History, explains that this is a first in Europe. “What is particularly interesting is that the object was observed before falling, we have its whole story,” she rejoices, reports the newspaper Le Monde. The fragment whose age is estimated at 4.5 billion years would be older than our planet and should be studied soon.

Thanks to the numerous observations made in France, Belgium and England and to the testimonies which have multiplied on social networks, the scientists have been able to model the trajectory of the asteroid which crossed the sky on February 12. It would be an asteroid whose trajectory around the Sun met that of Mars and Earth. The last time the asteroid had passed close to Earth dates back to the year 2000. It would be a small asteroid which must have measured about 1 meter in diameter.

A meteorite is a rocky body of extraterrestrial origin. It is an object which did not completely disintegrate while crossing the atmosphere and which is found on the ground. We speak of a meteorite both for rocky bodies found on Earth and on other stars such as the Moon or the planet Mars, for example.

Meteorites can be found all over the planet, but some areas are better than others for finding them. This is how many meteorites have been collected in the Sahara desert or in Antarctica. In these environments devoid of vegetation and rocks, it is much easier to spot a fragment of rock on the ground than in the forest or in the mountains.

Meteorites are composed of iron, rocks, or both. This composition translates the history of the meteorite and in particular of the asteroid or the body from which it originated. It is this composition that makes it possible to classify meteorites into different categories.

Unlike a meteorite, a meteor is a body that has completely disintegrated while passing through the Earth’s atmosphere. While the meteorite is found on the ground, the meteor burns up as it passes through the atmosphere and can then produce a strong glow. You’ve probably seen them on summer evenings. Indeed, shooting stars are nothing but meteors!

Knowing how to tell the difference between a simple pebble and a meteorite that has fallen in your garden is not easy. However, there are a few signs that help identify a meteorite. This type of rock has flat faces and non-protruding, blunt edges. The crust is black in color due to the melting that took place during its passage through the atmosphere. And when you weigh them, meteorites are usually heavy for their size.