NASA scientist takes to the skies to search for clues of meteor origin

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SALT LAKE CITY — Weeks after a meteorite tore through Utah skies, people are still combing for souvenirs, but one rock hunter isn’t searching for where they ended up.

Peter Jenniskens, a scientist from NASA, is trying to find where exactly they came from.

“We’re literally looking for a hole in the ground, yeah, because the soil here is fairly soft and it looks like the rocks are just punching through,” Jenniskens said while aboard KSL-TV Chopper-5.

He is trying to track down the path of the meteorite that crashed in Utah last month, and he hopes to spot the pieces that fell across the Salt Flats.

“So, it does look like something was dug out here, so it’s quite possible a meteorite did fall in this location.” Jenniskens comments while exploring the ground.

However, no rock was found, just an empty hole. But that information helps with Jennisken’s main goal.

“So this is a big arrow pointing that way,” he said as he looks across the Salt Flats.

For Jenniskens, it’s not about the price tag of finding a piece of the meteor or even what it’s made of. He wants to find out where it came from and the millions of years of information he can learn from it.

Embedded in each rock is evidence of when it left the asteroid belt and how long it spent in space before landing here.

And even though this ride, he leaves with more clues about where to look, it’s all worth it for him.

“For me, this is just fascinating. It’s the closest you get to touching the skies. I mean, this is really space coming to meet us.”

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