Research Article

Radar-Enabled Recovery of the Sutter’s Mill Meteorite, a Carbonaceous Chondrite Regolith Breccia

Science  21 Dec 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6114, pp. 1583-1587
DOI: 10.1126/science.1227163

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Abstract

Doppler weather radar imaging enabled the rapid recovery of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite after a rare 4-kiloton of TNT–equivalent asteroid impact over the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in northern California. The recovered meteorites survived a record high-speed entry of 28.6 kilometers per second from an orbit close to that of Jupiter-family comets (Tisserand’s parameter = 2.8 ± 0.3). Sutter’s Mill is a regolith breccia composed of CM (Mighei)–type carbonaceous chondrite and highly reduced xenolithic materials. It exhibits considerable diversity of mineralogy, petrography, and isotope and organic chemistry, resulting from a complex formation history of the parent body surface. That diversity is quickly masked by alteration once in the terrestrial environment but will need to be considered when samples returned by missions to C-class asteroids are interpreted.

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