The impact and Recovery of Asteroid 2008 TC3

Scientists from NASA-Ames’ Astrochemistry Laboratory, Scott Sandford, Stefanie Milam, and Michel Nuevo, were coauthors on a paper entitled “The impact and recovery of asteroid 2008 TC3” that appeared in the 26 March 2009 issue of Nature. The paper’s authors describe the discovery of a small asteroid, 2008 TC3, on 6 October 2008, the subsequent collision of the asteroid with the Earth over North Africa, and the later collection of 47 of the meteorites resulting from the explosion of the asteroid in the Earth’s atmosphere. Portions of the meteorite, now officially named ‘Almahata Sitta’, were analyzed in several laboratories around the world, including Ames’ Astrochemistry Laboratory. The meteorite was shown to be a somewhat anomalous example of a relatively rare type of achondrite called a polymict ureilite. The combined asteroid and meteorite reflectance spectra identify the asteroid as a spectral “Class F” object, now firmly linking this class of asteroid to dark, carbon-rich ureilites.