Determination of strewn fields for meteorite fallsOPEN ACCESS 

Jarmo Moilanen, Maria Gritsevich, Esko Lyytinen

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, stab586
Published: 01 March 2021


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“When an object enters the atmosphere it may be detected as a meteor. A bright meteor, called a fireball, may be a sign of a meteorite fall. Instrumentally observed meteorite falls provide unique opportunities to recover and analyse unweathered planetary samples supplemented with the knowledge on the Solar System orbit they had. To recover a meteorite from a fireball event, it is essential that recovery teams can be directed to a well-defined search area. Until recently, simulations showing the realistic mapping of a strewn field was difficult, in particular due to the large number of unknowns not directly retrieved from the fireball observations. These unknowns include the number of fragments and their aerodynamic properties, for which the masses of the fragments need to be assumed in a traditional approach. Here we describe a new Monte Carlo model, which has already successfully assisted in several meteorite recoveries. The model is the first of its kind as it provides an adequate representation of the processes occurring during the luminous trajectory coupled together with the dark flight. In particular, the model comprises a novel approach to fragmentation modelling that leads to a realistic fragment mass distribution on the ground. We present strewn field simulations for the well-documented Košice and Neuschwanstein meteorite falls, which demonstrate good matches to the observations. We foresee that our model can be used to revise the flux of extra-terrestrial matter onto the Earth, as it provides a possibility of estimating the terminal mass of meteorite fragments reaching the ground.”