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Researchers want to recover the remains of the first interstellar meteorite from the sea

Researchers want to recover the remains of the first interstellar meteorite from the sea

A research group from the United States wants to recover the remains of the first observed interstellar object, which fell to Earth in August 2014. The group led by astrophysicist Amir Siraj is convinced that they have narrowed the impact site of the meteorite to an area of ​​10 km x 10 km in the Bismarck Sea at the edge of Pacific. Because they believe the object must be magnetic, they expect to be able to find and retrieve it within ten days through a systematic search using a special sled.

Analysis of the first interstellar meteorite promises important insights into our cosmic neighborhood. In any case, an expedition to Papua New Guinea to save the smallest fragments is already being planned.

The object, called CNEOS 2014-01-08, fell to Earth in 2014 and was monitored by automated monitoring systems. The impact was discovered by Siraj in a NASA meteorite database. The phenomenal speed of 200,000 kilometers per hour was the decisive indication that the meteorite should not have originated in the solar system.

However, scientific work on the discovery has been waiting for publication for years: since some of the sensors used to automatically detect meteors and fireballs are owned by the US military and are also used to search for nuclear explosions, the data collected is confidential. The US military confirmed the discovery only in April, making further research possible.

If the meteorite fragments were already present, their scientific value would be unlimited. It will be the first material from outside our solar system that can be analyzed directly. In fact, CNEOS 2014-01-08 is only the third interstellar object to be discovered in the Solar System, but it collided years before crossing 2I/Borisov and ʻOumuamua.

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Together with oceanographer Timothy Gallaudet, Siraj and his professor Avi Loeb determined that the meteorite must have fallen into the Bismarck Sea about 300 kilometers north of Manus Island. The depth of the sea there is about 1.7 km. Using a magnetic chute, they want to recover fragments whose size does not exceed 0.1 mm. Explain their plan The collection was submitted to the Astronomical Instruments Journal, which has not yet been independently verified.


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