Scientists set out plans to catch a shooting star

Scottish team appeals for volunteers to help recover space rocks that fall to earth.

One of the cameras installed to capture a falling meteorite. University of Glasgow
One of the cameras installed to capture a falling meteorite.

Scottish researchers have revealed plans to track and recover meteorites that fall to earth.

A network of cameras is being installed across the UK to pinpoint where space rocks land.

The UK Fireball Network is being led by researchers from the University of Glasgow and Imperial College London.

And the team is looking for volunteers to help them recover the rocks when they land.

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Dr Luke Daly, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, said meteorites give an insight into other planets and our solar system.

He said: “A good deal of what we know about the surface of Mars, for example, comes from analysis of chunks of the planet which were blasted off its surface by asteroid impacts millions of years ago and drifted in space before falling to Earth.

“Meteorites enter our atmosphere all the time, but the UK hasn’t had a great track record of finding them in recent years.

“In fact, it’s been nearly 30 years since one was last seen dropping into a back garden in Glatton in Cambridgeshire, and more than 100 since one was observed in Scotland.”

Dr Luke Daly is one of the leaders of the UK Fireball Network. Credit: University of Glasgow.

Researchers hope to catch glimpses of the spectacular natural firework displays caused when meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Catching images on more than one camera allows scientists to estimate where rocks land and where they have come from.

While meteorites that fall into the sea are impossible to recover, scientists hope to send out search parties to help recover rocks that fall all on land.

“It was very exciting to capture our first images of a fireball caught by two of our observatories, although it was obviously disappointing that the material it dropped fell into the sea.

“When we do catch sight of a fireball dropping meteorites on land, we’ll need the help of volunteers to help comb the countryside to find them, so anyone interested in making a little bit of history by getting involved can follow us on Twitter at @FireballsUK.”

So far, six out of the ten cameras that are part of the UK network have been set up in sites in England, Scotland and Wales.

Over the next couple of months, the remaining cameras will be placed in other locations, including Northern Ireland.

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