On January 18, 2000 at 16:43 local time, fragments of the Tagish Lake meteorite landed on the so named lake in Canada’s Yukon Territory. It is memorial in that the original meteor from which it broke off may have weighed as much as 200 tons. The passage of the fireball and the high-altitude explosion set off a wide array of satellite sensors as well as seismographs.
A local man driving in the area at the time used uncommon foresight and didn’t pick them up with his hands, but rather with a plastic bag, took fragments home and put them where they belonged, in the deep freeze. Scientists believe that it had a pre-entry Apollo type orbit that brought it from the outer reaches of the asteroid belt.
Because so many people witnessed the fireball and gathered its fragments and because it landed on a frozen lake in the middle of winter, it has become one of the world’s most well-preserved meteorites. The fragments were rich in carbon and contained an assortment of amino acids.
ATTENTION TEACHERS: NASA has lots of educational material for all levels.
NASA’s SpacePlace explains the difference between asteroids, meteors, and meteorites. Asteroides are the largest and have their own orbit around the sun. A meteoroid is a small piece of an asteroid (or comet) that breaks off. When this object enters the Earth’s atmosphere, we call it a meteor and when it falls to the Earth, it is a meteorite.
According to Space.com, thousands of meteorites are thought to fall to Earth every year, most except in cases like the Tagish Lake Meteorite go unnoticed.
On January 18, 2000 a large meteoroid exploded in the upper atmosphere at an altitude of between 50 and 30 kilometers above Earth with an estimated energy release of about 1.7 kilotons.
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