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The unusually frail asteroid 2008 TC3

  • Peter Jenniskens (a1), Muawia H. Shaddad (a2) and The Almahata Sitta Consortium

Abstract

The first asteroid to be discovered in space and subsequently observed to impact Earth, asteroid 2008 TC3, exploded at a high 37 km altitude and stopped ablating at 32 km. This would classify the fireball as of Ceplecha's PE-criterion IIIb/a, meaning “cometary” in nature. In this case, the structural weakness may have come from pores found in some of the recovered meteorites, called “Almahata Sitta” (= Station 6 in Arabic). The explosion turned most of the asteroid mass to dust and vapor, only a tiny fraction shattered into macroscopic meteorites, the heaviest of which was 283 gram. Other similarly frail asteroids may be related to main belt comets.

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References

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