Bolide fragmentation: What parts of asteroid 2008 TC3 survived to the ground?

1,2Peter Jenniskens,2Darrel Robertson,3Cyrena A. Goodrich,4Muawia H. Shaddad,4Ayman Kudoda,5Anna M. Fioretti,6Michael E. Zolensky
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Open Access Link to Article []
1SETI Institute, 339 Bernardo Avenue, Mountain View, California, 94043 USA
2NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, 94035 USA
3Lunar and Planetary Institute, USRA, Houston, Texas, 77058 USA
4Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Khartoum, Khartoum, 11115 Sudan
5CNR–Istituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse, I-35131 Padova, Italy
6Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, 77058 USA
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Asteroid 2008 TC3 impacted the Earth’s atmosphere with a known shape and orientation. Over 600 meteorites were recovered at recorded locations, including meteorites of nonureilite type. From where in the asteroid did these stones originate? Here, we reconstruct the meteor lightcurve and study the breakup dynamics of asteroid 2008 TC3 in 3-D hydrodynamic modeling. Two fragmentation regimes are found that explain the lightcurve and strewn field. As long as the asteroid created a wake vacuum, the fragments tended to move into that shadow, where they mixed with small relative velocities and surviving meteorites fell along a narrow strip on the ground. But when the surviving part of the backside and bottom of the asteroid finally collapsed at 33 km altitude, it created an end flare and dust cloud, while fragments were dispersed radially with much higher relative speed due to shock–shock interactions with a distorted shock front. Stones that originated in this final collapse tended to survive in a larger size and fell over a wider area at locations on the ground. Those locations to some extent still trace back to the fragment’s original position in the asteroid. We classified the stones from this “large mass” area and used this information to glean some insight into the relative location of recovered ureilites and ordinary and enstatite chondrites in 2008 TC3.


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