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The Impact and Recovery of the Sutter's Mill Meteorite

[2012 April 22, 14:51 UT (7:51 PDT)]

2012 December 21 - Today in the journal Science, 70 authors published a report on the first two months of studies on the fall of the Sutter's Mill meteorite and its properties. Sutter's Mill was found to have arrived from the asteroid belt recently, on an orbit that still points to its source region. The meteorites are unusually diverse, composed of rocks within rocks, the first time a CM chondrtie is clearly a regolith breccia. The rapid recovery, thanks to the first detection of falling meteorites from a carbonaceous chondrite fall by Doppler weather radar, provided the most pristine look yet at the former surface of the CM chondrite parent body asteroid.
Announcements:
[SETI Institute]
[NASA Ames Research Center]
[Planetary Science Institute]
[UC Davis]
[AMNH]
[Field Museum]
[University of Western Ontario, Canada]


Report your find to receive a SM (Sutter's Mill meteorite) number by email to: Petrus.M.Jenniskens@nasa.gov

Samples SM2, 12, and 67 were found in NASA Ames Research Center led volunteer searches, and part of SM30 was donated to NASA Ames, for analysis by SM Meteorite Consortium members. Please consider donating a small part of your find for research so we can sample as many parts of the asteroid as possible.

Recovered finds

The confirmed finds listed below are given in order of SM number assigned. This will be regularly updated. If you find errors, please let us know.

strewn field

SM#	Mass(g) Lat(N)	Longitude(W)	Date of find	Finder

1	5.6	38.8033	120.9075	4/24/2012	Robert Ward
2*	4.0	38.8029	120.9085	4/24/2012	Peter Jenniskens
3	5.0	38.8103	120.9269	4/24/2012	Brien Cook
4	17.0	38.8040	120.9086	4/26/2012	Brenda Salveson
6	2.4	38.8037	120.9049	4/26/2012	Patrick Murphy
7	6.0	38.8065	120.8879	4/27/2012	Jerry Moorman
8	19.0	38.8069	120.9358	4/27/2012	Susan Monroe
9	6.3	38.8029	120.8928	4/27/2012	Eric Bowker
10	6.2	38.8053	120.9184	4/28/2012	Loraine Logan
11	14.5	38.8071	120.8925	4/28/2012	Tania Mcalliser
12*	17.5	38.7857	120.9091	4/29/2012	Moni Waiblinger (land owner: Merv de Haas)
13	18.9	38.7938	120.9217	4/29/2012	Marcos&Jennifer
14	11.5	38.8027	120.8945	5/1/2012	Suzanne Matin
15	11.3	38.8069	120.9358	4/27/2012	Mike and Julie Steward
16	15.0	38.8016	120.9078	4/30/2012	Jim and Bailey Plimpton
17	7.2	38.8003	120.8910	4/26/2012	Greg and Abriela Jorgensen
18	5.4	38.8125	120.9056	5/2/2012	Greg Jorgensen
19	10.0	38.8161	120.9375	5/3/2012	Alice Butler
20	1.1	38.8054	120.8955	4/27/2012	Richard Garcia
21	1.0	38.8014	120.8852	5/4/2012	Bob Pedersen
22	0.6	38.8024	120.8897	4/27/2012	Paul Gessler
23	1.6	38.8065	120.9102	4/27/2012	Vickie Ly
24	2.1	38.8145	120.9156	4/27/2012	Barbara Broide and Ryan Turner
25	7.3	38.8129	120.9246	4/27/2012	Jason Utas
26	3.5	38.8086	120.9041	4/30/2012	Jason Utas and Michelle Myers
27	35.1	38.8058	120.9624	5/5/2012	Mitch Carey	
28	4.7	38.8059	120.8952	5/5/2012	Madeleine Hogue and Dinesh Krishnamurthy
29	11.8	--.----	---.----	5/1/2012	Joan Johnson
30*	3.5	38.7989	120.8810	5/1/2012	Joyce Matin and Mark Dayton
31	5.9	38.8132	120.9238	5/4/2012	Mark Dayton
32	9.6	38.8096	120.9263	5/1/2012	Doug Klotz
33	8.5	38.8071	120.8964	4/27/2012	Connie Nelson
34	1.6	38.7942	120.9814	5/3/2012	Adam Hamlin
35	0.1	38.7910	120.9781	5/1/2012	Robert Ward
36	22.6	38.800?	120.917?	4/28/2012	Michael Shaw
37	2.8	38.8142	120.9106	5/6/2012	Mike Miller
38	7.0	38.8142	120.9110	5/6/2012	Stanley Wall
39	2.5	38.8044	120.8941	4/27/2012	Mike Miller
40	17.7	38.8224	120.9598	5/5/2012	Keith Mueller, Mike Hankey, and Larry Atkins
41	9.3	38.8127	120.9077	5/4/2012	David Johnson
42	1.6	38.8146	120.9162	4/28/2012	Mendy Ouzillou
43	4.3	38.8097	120.9283	4/29/2012	Sandy VanderPol and Emily
44	5.5	38.7966	120.9196	5/9/2012	Dennis and Karen Kelleher
45	2.9	38.8047	120.9077	5/10/2012	Alex Wolfgram
46	2.4	38.8167	120.8638	5/4/2012	Rebecca Stuart-G.
47	10.1	38.8078	120.8997	5/1/2012	Teal Triolo
48	5.1	38.8147	120.8997	5/12/2012	Kelly Heavin
49	5.9	38.8116	120.9126	5/11/2012	Mike Miller
50	42.4	38.8063	120.9628	5/9/2012	Robert Ward
51	12.3	38.8117	120.8957	5/2/2012	Rick Patrinellis
52	12.8	38.8150	120.9176	5/22/2012	Peter Utas
53	205.2	38.8136	120.9716	5/11/2012	Jeffrey Grant A.
54	20.2	38.8054	120.9689	5/2/2012	Shane Skogberg
55	20.6	38.8086	120.9523	5/25/2012	Keith Jenkerson
56	7.6	38.8143	120.9217	5/11/2012	Bob Willis
57	2.8	38.8212	120.8504	5/24/2012	Rick Nelson
58	1.3	38.8172	120.8550	5/26/2012	Sandy Cox
59	1.5	38.8328	120.8761	5/26/2012	Sandy Cox
60	4.5	38.8187	120.8795	5/26/2012	Rick Nelson
61	3.4	38.8271	120.8691	5/26/2012	Rick Nelson
62	1.8	38.8151	120.8817	5/27/2012	Sandy Cox
63	8.3	38.806?	120.948?	5/26/2012	Dana Jenkerson
64	22.5	38.806?	120.948?	5/27/2012	Keith Jenkerson
65	11.6	38.8102	120.9163	5/30/2012	Philipe de Riemer
66	25.2	38.806?	120.950?	5/29/2012	Keith Jenkerson
67*	0.3	38.8082	120.9593	6/17/2012	Beverly Girten (land owner: Larry Spies)
68	1.0	38.8187	120.8744	6/8/2012	Connie Nelson
69	26.6	38.8034	120.9494	6/23/2012	Dan & Katrina Siders
70	27.0	38.8010	120.9619	6/30/2012	Glenn Arsenault
71	6.2	38.8123	120.9153	6/24/2012	Roy Karen
72	24.3	38.806?	120.946?	5/30/2012	Keith Jenkerson
73	8.1	38.8079	120.9149	6/24/2012	Noel and Aidan Robinson
74	21.6	38.8078	120.9535	6/7/2012	Joel Kaderka
75	6.85	38.8092	120.9067	5/2/2012	Miquel Leon Contreras
76	8.10	38.8058	120.8945	4/27/2012	Sonny Clary
77	13.5	38.8061	120.9690	5/24/2012	several, incl. Jason Utas
78	14.5	38.8060	120.9689	5/26/2012	several, incl. Jason Utas
SM5 was not a meteorite. Locations with question marks are uncertain.

Sutter's Mill Meteorite Consortium

The following research teams (team lead given) are participating in a consortium established to coordinate the analysis of Sutter's Mill meteorite samples. Please contact if you like to join this effort with unique ability (POC) :
P. Jenniskens	SETI/NASA ARC	Meteorite recovery	#2,12
S. Sandford	NASA ARC  	IR spectroscopy		#2,30
T. Hiroi	Brown U.	Reflection spectroscopy	#30,12
A. Steele	Carnegie Inst.	Raman spectroscopy	#2
M. Fries	P.S.I.		Raman Spectroscopy	#2
G. Cooper	NASA ARC	Organic volatiles	#2,12
S. Pizzarello	ASU	    	Isotope organics	#2,12,41
D. Glavin	NASA/Goddard	Amino acids		#2,12,51
P. Schmitt-K.	H.-Z., Germany	mass spectroscopy	#2,12
D. Sears	NASA ARC	Thermoluminescence     	#2,12
M. Zolensky	NASA JSC	Petrography		#2
M. Grady	NHM		Petrography/UVVIS	 spectroscopy	#2,12,30
A. Rubin	UCLA      	Petrography   		#2,12
Q. Yin		UC Davis	isotope and trace element geochemistry	#43,51
P. Heck      	FMN Chicago	Presolar grains		#1,47
D. Ebel  	AMNH, New York	3-D CT scanning  	#3,9,18 (non-destructive)
K. Ziegler	U of NewMexico	O isotopes        	#2,12
J. Friedrich	Fordham Univ.	Elemental composition	#2
K. Welten	UC Berkeley	Radio isotopes     	-.-
M. Laubenstein	SanG, Italy	Gamma Ray Spectroscopy	#36 (non-destructive)
S.V.S. Murty	PRL, India	N/Ar isotopes   	#2,12
P. Rochette	Aix-M.,France	Paleomagnetism   	#12
J. Wasson	UCLA    	INAA            	-.- (sept.)	
M. Anand	Open Univ, UK	nanoSIMS    		-.-
S. Krot     	HIGP, Hawaii	Mn-Cr isotopes		#51
R. Beauford	ACSPS, Arkansas		TL		#48
R. Ogliore	Un. Hawaii	Ion microprobe		#51
M. Komatsu	Waseda U., Japan	CAI, AOA	#2
K. Mikouchi	U of Tokyo, Japan	Synchotron/XRD	#2
K. Nagashima	HIGP, Hawaii	Mn-Cr/O			#51
D. Klotz	Space Sci. f. Schools	density		#32
K. Ohsumi	Japan Synchroton Rad. Res Inst.	Synchotron	#2
Y. Kebukawa	Carnegie Inst.	XANES     		#2
K. Hagiya	U. of Hyogo, Japan	petrography	#2
N. Kita     	U. of Wisc.	O-isotopes		#2
I. Franchi	Open U., UK	O-isotopes		#47
D. Frank	NASA/JSC  	minor element abundances	#2
A. Davis	U. Chicago  	imaging and x-ray mapping	#1,47
S. Simon	U. Chicago  	imaging and x-ray mapping	#1,47
A. Hildebrand	U. Calgary, Canada	elastic velocity	-.-
G. Flynn	SUNY Plattsburgh	XANES      	#12
H. Yabuta	Osaka U., Japan	IOM isotopes      	#12
A. Bischoff	U. Muenster, Germnay	Petrography	-.-
M. Yesiltas	U. Central Flordia	synchotron-based infrared microspectr.	#2,12

The following research teams are participating in the coordinated analysis of observations of the Sutter's Mill asteroid impact and recovery:
M. Fries	Planetary Science Inst.	Radar maps, strewn field
R. Matson	SAIC            	Radar maps, strewn field
P. Brown	UWO, Canada		Infrasound
E. Silber	UWO, Canada		Infrasound, seismic 
K. Smith	Nevada Seismol. Lab.	Impact: seismic detections
M. Hankey	American Meteor Society	Visual observations
D. Klotz	Space Sci. f. Schools	Trajectory reconstruction
P. Jenniskens	SETI/NASA ARC		Trajectory reconstruction
B. Girten	NASA/ARC		Recovery	
P. Worden	NASA/ARC		Recovery	

How to preserve your meteorite finds

The Sutters Mill meteorite is of a kind that is easily contaminated, hampering certain types of scientific studies. To keep your meteorite in the best possible shape, here are some general guidelines:
  • Keep magnets away from them (in order not to destroy any natural magnetism in the rock)
  • Do not touch the meteorites (in case your hands contain moisture, oils, and bacteria).
  • Use aluminum foil to collect the meteorite and to store and handle it.
  • When you show the meteorites to others, minimize exposure to moisture (such as from people talking over it).
  • Keep plastics away from the meteorite. No storing in plastic bags, plastic containers, no touching with gloves.
  • Store the meteorites wrapped in aluminum foil in a clean (no smell) glas jar, covered by a sheet of aluminum foil. Put that jar in a bigger jar with closed lid with some desiccant on the bottom (if no other desiccant is available, one-minute rice will do). Allow the meteorite to dry out in this way to remove all adsorbed water vapor.
  • Once the meteorite is dry, after a day or so, put the whole contraption in the freezer in order to stop bacteria growth in the meteorite.
Please check also other sources of information to make sure you are doing your utmost best preserving the meteorite against weathering.

Background

The fall: In the morning of 2012 April 22, at 7:51 PDT, a 2-4 meter sized near-earth asteroid collided with Earth over California's Sierra Nevada mountains. The rock was big enough to be considered a small world, of a size just a little smaller than the near-Earth asteroid that will one day be visited by humans. The impact created a bright fireball that was seen all over California and Nevada. When it penetrated deep enough in the atmosphere, the asteroid broke into many pieces. Big pieces were hard to slow down and kept going a while down range, landing first on the ground. The smaller pieces were quickly stopped by friction with the atmosphere and rained down to Earth after some time. A loud boom and rumble was heard in the mountains over a wide region centered south of Placerville, so loud that several kilotons of kinetic energy had to be released. NOAA-NWS-NEXRAD Doppler-radar sweeps over the area at different altitudes and times recorded meteorites of different size rain to the ground. Near Colama, El Dorado County, eye witnesses reported hearing the meteorites fly through the air shortly after. They landed in a wide area that includes Sutter's Mill, where the first gold was discovered by James Marshall in January of 1848. That discovery led to the worlds largest migration in history, known as the California Gold Rush.

The find: Two days after the meteorites landed on the ground, meteorite hunter Robert Ward found the first 5.5 gram meteorite along the entrance way to Henningsen-Lotus Park. Later that day, meteor astronomer Dr. Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center found a crushed 4 gram meteorite in the parking lot of that same park. A third meteorite was found by meteorite hunter Brien Cook. Rains in the following two days slowed the search, but after the rains a steady stream of meteorite recoveries were made.

Report your find: This website, maintained by Dr. Jenniskens, keeps an official tally of the recovered meteorites. Each recovered meteorite is given a number. By knowing the location of the meteorite in the strewn field, it is possible to relate the properties of the meteorites back to a position in the original asteroid. By using the numbers in publications and trade, thus keeping track of the find location, over time we will get a glimpse of the fascinating little world that collided with Earth.


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