Sutter's Mill Meteorite Hunt

On April 22, 2012 near the towns of Coloma and Lotus in California, United States, a bright daytime east-to-west moving fireball was seen on April 22, 2012, from locations over California and Nevada between 7:51:10 and 7:51:30 am local daylight time (UT-7). The meteoroid fragmented towards the end of its trajectory. A loud sonic boom was heard in a wide region around Lake Tahoe. Wind gusts were felt and houses shook. At least a kiloton of kinetic energy was released, based on the infrasound signal detected at two stations. Eyewitnesses in the townships of Coloma and Lotus, El Dorado County, reported hearing whistling sounds and some smelled a "welding" odor. U.S. National Climatic Data Center's "NEXRAD" Doppler weather radar sweeps detected the falling meteorites. In data analyzed by Marc Fries, PSI, and Robert Matson, SAIC, the radar-defined strewn field is centered on the Sutter’s Mill historic site. On April 24, Robert Ward searched under the radar footprint and collected the first 5.5 g meteorite in Henningsen-Lotus Park. Later that day, Peter Jenniskens recovered a crushed 4 g fragment in the parking lot of that same park. A third find was made by Brien Cook, before heavy rain descended on the area in the following two days. After the rains more fragments were found including at the Sutter's Mill site in the James W. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. The Sutter's Mill meteorite is classified as a Carbonaceous chondrite (C).

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