After a fireball was seen blazing across the sky last week, bits of meteorite have been discovered on the ground in the South, NASA said.
The agency shared a photo of one such meteorite on Facebook. The asteroid fragment was spotted across Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi before it disintegrated somewhere near the Louisiana-Mississippi border, near Adams County.
Confirmed meteorites have been found in the area east of Natchez, a city on the Mississippi River, NASA said. NASA wouldn’t say how many meteorites were found nor exactly where they were discovered.
“Existing law states that any meteorites belong to the owner of the property on which they fell; out of respect for the privacy of those in the area, we will not disclose the locations of these finds,” NASA said in a social media update on the fireball.
The exceptionally bright meteor was spotted across several states around 8 a.m. last Wednesday. Loud booms were also heard in Claiborne County, Mississippi, and surrounding areas, NASA reported.
“This is one of the nicer events I have seen in the GLM (Geostationary Lightning Mappers) data,” said Bill Cooke, lead of NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The object, which scientists called a bolide, moved southwest at a speed of about 35,000 miles per hour, breaking into pieces as it descended deeper into Earth’s atmosphere. It disintegrated about 34 miles above a swampy area north of the unincorporated Concordia Parish community of Minorca in Louisiana.
One witness told the Vicksburg Post that she heard a loud noise and then looked up and saw an “orange fireball the size of a basketball, with a white tail behind it,” heading west toward the Mississippi River.
The fragmentation of the fireball generated enough energy to create shockwaves that spread to the ground, producing the booms and vibrations felt by people in the area, NASA said.
At its peak, the fireball was more than 10 times brighter than a full moon, NASA said.
If it’s confirmed by scientists, it will be the fifth meteorite fall in Mississippi’s history. The other occurrences happened in 2012, 1922, 1910 and the 1850s, according to NASA.
“What struck me as unusual was how few eyewitness reports we had given the skies were so clear,” said Cooke. “More people heard it than saw it.”
If you’re in the Louisiana-Mississippi area and you spot an out-of-this-world looking rock, and you think it may be a meteorite from last week’s fireball … well, NASA doesn’t want to see it.
“We are not meteorite people, as our main focus is protecting spacecraft and astronauts from meteoroids. So we will be unable to identify any strange rocks you may find,” said NASA.
“Please do not send us rock photos, as we will not respond.”
Instead, the Washington University in St. Louis can help you identify that possible meteorite.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.