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Istituto italiano di astrofisica - national institute for astrophisics

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You are here: Home INAF News The New Year’s Day meteorite has been found

The New Year’s Day meteorite has been found

For the first time in Italy a meteorite is recovered through systematic monitoring, thanks to the PRISMA network, promoted and coordinated by INAF
The New Year’s Day meteorite has been found

The two fragments of the meteorite found in the province of Modena

The predictions made by PRISMA (Prima Rete Italiana per la Sorveglianza sistematica di Meteore e dell’Atmosfera – First Italian Network for systematic Meteor and Atmosphere  Surveillance), a collaboration promoted and coordinated by the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), have led to the timely recovery of the meteorite that lit up the sky of northern Italy in the early evening of New Year’s Day.

Two fragments were found in the afternoon of 4 January by Davide Gaddi, a local cyclist who is already well known for charity fundraising through his bike tours. The find occurred at Disvetro-Rovereto sul Secchia, in the province of Modena, on the border of the area calculated by the PRISMA collaboration. The PRISMA network is formed at present by about 50 all-sky cameras for the observation of bright meteors, distributed over Italy. This recovery is an important endorsement of the method used by the collaboration, and of the fundamental role of the PRISMA project in the monitoring of meteors that cross our skies.

The PRISMA collaboration was formed precisely in order to study and monitor events such as fireballs and high-atmosphere phenomena with its network of cameras, which are installed all over the country and maintain a 24-hour/day surveillance of the sky. Participants in PRISMA include not only Astronomical Observatories (professional and amateur) and Universities, but also Planetaria, cultural associations, schools, and private citizens.

“This is very gratifying indeed for everyone who collaborates in the PRISMA network” says Daniele Gardiol, INAF Torino, National Coordinator of PRISMA. “This success is a reward for the efforts made in these last 3 years by all those who have installed and are maintaining the cameras; by those who have programmed and implemented the complex calculations required to determine the physical parameters of the fireball phenomenon, and to accurately determine the area of impact; by our French colleagues of the twin network FRIPON, who are close collaborators; by the citizens who responded to our call for the search for fragments. It is a success which we all own, and the result of perfect teamwork”.

In the early evening of 1 January, at UT 18:26:54 (local time 19:26:54 in Italy), a very bright fireball – a particularly bright meteor, caused by the passage through our atmosphere of a small rock fragment originating from an asteroid – crossed the skies of northern Italy, and was detected by 8 cameras of the PRISMA network. Among them, the cameras located in Bedonia, Cecima, Felizzano, Loiano, Navacchio, and Rovigo provided useful data for the calculations by the PRISMA experts, which led to identify the most likely area for the impact of the meteorite. This area was confined around the village of Disvetro, a few km north of Cavezzo, in the province of Modena.

And in fact the fragments were found very close to that area. The identification was confirmed by Romano Serra, Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Bologna, a well-known expert and collector of meteorites, who was also in the vicinity searching for fragments, in response to the call launched by PRISMA through the media. Serra was able to make a timely preliminary examination of the samples, and immediately concluded that they could only be fragments of a very “fresh”, or recently fallen, meteorite.

Further extensive analysis of the samples will follow, and will be reported promptly.

 

Enquiries:

INAF Press Office: phone +39 06 35533390 or +39 335 1778428 ufficiostampa@inaf.it

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