Simulating Small Meteor Impacts
(click on images for enlarged view)

With hopes of eventually finding meteorites, members of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society hit on the idea of dropping various objects on different types of terrain to simulate the impact of small meteors.

It is hoped that knowledge gained from these experiments may help those involved to know where to look and what to look for when searching for meteorites.

Drops are conducted in accordance with all Federal Aviation Regulations including part 91.15*.

Drop #1
Date:          13 February 2004
Time:          12:00 noon, MST
Object:        6.5 kg (14.4#) Bowling ball
Location:      Bonneville Seabase, near Grantsville, Utah
Surface:       Clay, frozen
Drop altitude: ~250 meters
Ground Speed
 at drop:      ~80 knots
Aircraft:      Cessna 152
Pilot:         Patrick Wiggins
Bombardier:    Ann House


"Bombardier" Ann House with the bowling ball.


Ball as it was found.


Ball penetrated the ground less than half it's diameter.

004                 005                 006
Patrick Wiggins, Bruce Grim and Roger Butz inspect the impact zone.


Bruce Grim and Roger Butz search for ejecta.  Most distant piece was located ~35 meters down range.
All ejecta sprayed in the same direction indicating the ball had not lost all horizontal velocity prior to impact.

Initial post-drop discussions centered around making the next drop from a higher altitude with more "meteor-like" objects.

*91.15 Dropping Objects

No pilot in command of a civil aircraft may allow
any object to be dropped from that aircraft in flight
that creates a hazard to persons or property.
However, this section does not prohibit the dropping
of any object if reasonable precautions are
taken to avoid injury or damage to persons or

Questions or comments about this page?  Contact Patrick Wiggins.

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