Record meteorite find

By Meagen Meikeljohn

As technology increasingly allows us to explore the outer bounds of our universe, it is a magical occasion when a piece of the mystery falls through Earth’s atmosphere.

The blazing Buzzard Coulee meteorite hurtled to Earth southeast of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan on Nov. 20, 2008. Soon after, University of Calgary department of geoscience associate professor and Canada Research Chair holder in Planetary Science Dr. Alan Hildebrand and graduate student Ellen Milley were the first to find and set out on a record-breaking hunt for fragments of the 10-tonne fireball.

Hildebrand discovered more than 400 pieces of rocky chondrite (H4), sporting hints that link the meteorite specimens to more than one parent body. He estimates more than 1,000 specimens have been recovered by diverse collectors and local residents. This surpasses the previous 700-piece record set by the central Alberta Bruderheim meteorite fall in 1960.

According to a search agreement, the U of C legally owns one half of the Buzzard Coulee specimens for research purposes. Preceding the return of the remaining specimens to their landowners, collectors and volunteer searchers were invited into the lab to marvel at the numerous other-worldly findings.

Research has helped give an idea about the size of the Buzzard Coulee meteorite that entered Earth’s atmosphere and the length of time since separating from its parent asteroid.

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