So here we are in the 3rd millennium, and guess what – rocks are still falling from the skies.
One which will surely book its place as a future historic is Almahata Sitta – formerly known as asteroid 2008 TC3.
The asteroid was spotted by the Catalina Sky Survey – a worldwide programme intended to discover and track objects which post a potential threat of impacting the earth. This one didn’t disappoint – within 24 hours, the projections showed, it would fall to earth somewhere over north-east Africa.
Right on schedule, at 0546 local time, it crashed into Sudan. The event was captured by satellite images.
A subsequent expedition recovered around 3,960g of the material. Not only was it remarkable because of its provenance, but it was an Ureilite – a very rare class of meteorite. In fact, more so – it was an anomalous ureilite, the only one recovered outside Antarctica and the only witnessed fall.
We still have much to learn about this rock, and it reminds us that meteorites still hold a lot of secrets close to their chest.