4.6bn year-old meteorite smashes into woman's car

On the evening of Friday, September 25, Tony Garchinski of Ontario, Canada heard a loud crash.

When he awoke the next morning to find a crack on the windscreen of his Mum's Nissan, he assumed it was vandalism and filed a police report.

It wasn't until a fortnight later that Tony's mother, Vyvonne, heard media reports that researchers from the University of Western Ontario were searching their small town of Grimsby.

The researchers were hunting for freshly fallen fragments of space rock after seven of their "all-sky" cameras had filmed a rare meteor event on September 25 - the night Yvonne's car was damaged.

Putting two and two together, the Garchinskis went out to search their driveway. Eventually, they found the real culprit behind Yvonne's cracked windshield.

The "culprit" weighed 46 grams and was about the size of a golf ball with a unique melted exterior. The Garchinskis immediately contacted the University.

After some analysis, the rock was identified as the melted fragment of an 'ordinary chondrite' meteorite.

Chondrites are arguably the most important kinds of meteorite, because they are the least processed and therefore give evidence of the materials which formed the early solar system.

Most remarkably of all, the meteorite is thought to be 4.6 billion years old.

"Having both the sample and the video is golden because we get the dynamic information and the orbital direction from the video," Phil McCausland, a postdoctoral fellow at Western University's Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration, told the University's Western News.

"We can study [the meteorite] in the best laboratories in the world and we can put it back in its solar system context. We've worked out the orbit, where it came from."

For now, Yvonne Garchinski has loaned the "pristine" space artefact to Western University. But it remains her property, as meteorites in Canada belong to the owner of the land on which they were discovered.

The Hambleton meteorite
The Hambleton meteorite went under the hammer at £90k

It is likely that Ms Garchinski has an extremely valuable treasure in her possession.

In August of this year, a 5.8kg chunk of the "Hambleton" meteorite - the rarest of its kind to be found in the UK - was valued at £90,000, after crashing into a field in Hambleton, North Yorkshire, UK.

How do you recognise a meteorite?

Space rocks are usually denser than normal rock, and can be identified by their dark and scalloped exterior. They contain metal, and will attract a fridge magnet. A meteorite will normally be found in a small hole, created by its impact.

Although they are not dangerous, a found meteorite should be put in a clean plastic bag or container and handled as little as possible to preserved it for scientific analysis.

Space rocks are highly valued collectibles and can bring big sums at auction - but they are also treasured scientific artefacts.









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