A 1.7 kilogram meteorite has been retrieved by a team of Perth researchers in the South Australian
outback using a new 32-camera network, a light plane, quad bikes and a drone.
Planetary geologist Phil Bland hand-dug the meteorite from a 42cm-deep hole on New Year’s Eve in a remote part of the lake bed hours before rain would have wiped away all trace of it.
‘We got there by the skin of our teeth,’ he said. The meteorite fall was seen on November 27 by locals in William Creek and Marree, and captured by Desert Fireball Network cameras.
After analysing the data, the researchers located the fall site in Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre but it then took three days to recover the meteorite.
Mechatronic engineer Jonathan Paxman said observations from the air were critical to finding the meteorite, which was in thick salt lake mud.
‘The impact site had deteriorated quite considerably in recent rain, and as a result was quite hard to see from the ground,’ he said.
Professor Bland said the meteorite – thought to be a chondrite or stony meteorite – was an example of material created during the early formation of the solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago.