Bunburra Rockhole

Collection Highlights | Updated 6 years ago

A mass from the Bunburra Rockhole meteorite as it was located
174 gram mass of the Bunburra Rockhole meteorite as found
Image copyright of WA Museum

Of the more than 50,000 meteorites in collections around the world the vast majority are chance finds, only about 1100 were actually observed to fall and quickly recovered. Of these 1100, the phenomena associated with the fall of only 12 have been photographed enabling the orbits of the objects that gave rise to the meteorites landing on Earth to be determined.

Since 2006 an Autonomous All-Sky Desert Fireball Camera Network (DFN) has been established in the Nullarbor of Western Australia. Today, four satellite-monitored cameras designed to operate in extreme conditions have been developed and deployed in the Nullarbor. Orbits are calculated from the fireballs, and meteorite fall positions are determined for later recovery.

On 20 July 2007, two cameras of the Nullarbor Desert Fireball Network (DFN) detected the fall of a meteorite. At 19hrs 13mins 53.2 secs (±0.1 sec) Universal Time, a fireball was recorded low on the horizon east of the network area.

The successful recovery of this meteorite now named Bunburra Rockhole (three specimens) represents a number of scientific firsts. While it is the fifth predicted meteorite fall in history, it is the first based solely on data from dedicated instruments. It is the first known meteorite from an Aten-type orbit (near-Earth), the first eucrite basaltic achondrite with a known orbit, and the first instrumentally observed meteorite fall in the southern hemisphere. Moreover, it is the first documented meteorite fall from a relatively small meteoroid, that produced a small fireball with a terminal height of 30 km.

The DFN project in the remote and sometimes climatically hostile Nullarbor is now set to be a major contributor to Solar System research.

Meteorite Collection