Shown here is the team that found the first meteorite from the breakup of asteroid 2018 LA in Botswana. They point to the space rock found there, later named Motopi Pan. Image via Meteoritics and Planetary Science/ Peter Jenniskens.
In 2018, an international team of scientists tracked a small asteroid as it streaked toward Earth and crashed into southern Africa. The team was able to find and collect pieces of the asteroid that were scattered across a Botswana game reserve. Now, the scientists believe they know the source of that asteroid. They say the space rock came from Vesta, the brightest and second-most massive object in the asteroid belt, a region of our solar system between Jupiter and Mars occupied by a great many solid, irregularly-shaped bodies of many sizes.
During the early days of the solar system, one and two billion years ago, enormous collisions nearly shattered Vesta, creating a slew of fragments that occasionally get close enough to Jupiter to hurl them in toward Earth. The researchers say it’s one of these pieces of space debris that landed in Africa in 2018.
The study of the findings was published April 23, 2021, in the peer-reviewed journal Meteoritics ...