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ASU team finds pieces of meteorite that lit up Arizona skies

Laurence Garvie, curator of Arizona State University's Center for Meteorite Studies, on Tuesday displays the meteorite he found on his recent trek into the White Mountain Apache tribal area. His team found 15 meteorites from the June 2 fireball that broke up over Arizona. (ASU Now Photo/Charlie Leight)

PHOENIX — A team from Arizona State University has found pieces of a meteorite that lit up the skies over the state nearly one month ago.

In an email, ASU said it took 132 hours of searching to locate fragments of the rock that broke up over Arizona in the early morning hours of June 2.

The 15 small pieces of meteorite — the original rock was estimated to be the size of a Volkswagen Beetle — were found on White Mountain Apache land in the eastern part of Arizona.

“These are pristine things that were in space a few days ago,” Laurence Garvie, a research professor and curator of the Center for Meteorite Studies in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU, told the school’s media outlet.

The six-person group, consisting of Garvie, two graduate students and three citizen scientists, had to get special permission to search tribal lands.

The meteor zigzagged across darkened skies around 4 a.m. earlier this month. Homes shook from metro Phoenix to Pinetop-Lakeside and dozens of 911 calls were placed to report the flash, sonic booms and sounds of an explosion.

“This thing exploded in the atmosphere,” Garvie said. “When the stone breaks up, things just start dropping. By simple physics, we can estimate where these things are on the ground.”

The find is just the fourth meteorite recovered in Arizona’s history and the second of Garvie’s career.

“Every new meteorite adds a piece to the puzzle about where we come from, how did the solar system form, why is the Earth here,” Garvie said.

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