On Monday – July 2, 2018 – the sea-going research vessel Exploration Vessel Nautilus will search for fragments of a minivan-sized meteorite that fell into the ocean, after lighting up skies over Washington, Oregon and British Columbia in March. You’re invited! The search will take place about 14 miles (22 km) off the coast of the U.S. state of Washington. It’ll focus on the area in and around NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Assuming the weather cooperates, a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) dive is scheduled to begin at approximately 9:00 a.m. PDT (16:00 UTC; translate UTC to your time) and last about seven hours. The public is invited to watch this exploration live at www.nautiluslive.org.
Jenny Waddell, research coordinator at Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, commented:
You’ll see what we find as soon as we do.
Scientists used weather radar to help predict where the heaviest concentrations of the meteorite landed.
The American Meteor Society (AMS) also mapped the trajectory of the meteor that lit up skies and caused a loud boom on March 7, 2018. The AMS produced the map below, showing the possible trajectory of the object as it sped over skies in the Pacific Northwest, heading for the ocean.
The EV Nautilus’ ROVs are state-of-the-art robots usually used to study underwater organisms and geologic features.
I haven’t seen any photos of the meteor as it streaked across the sky, and it prompted relatively few reports at the American Meteor Society’s fireball log. But there was one video uploaded to the AMS website – contributed by J. Bailey – showing a bright flash from the meteor as it streaked across the sky on March 7, 2018:
So … wow! And it’ll be very exciting if Nautilus finds something.
Special thanks to EarthSky reader JM – and to our friend Shireen Gonzaga – both of whom gave us a heads up on this story and sent helpful links.
Bottom line: Scientists are planning an underwater search with ROVs from the EV Nautilus, looking for fragments of a large meteorite thought to have plunged into the ocean in or around the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in March, 2018. Watch this exploration live at www.nautiluslive.org beginning at approximately 9:00 a.m. PDT (16:00 UTC; translate UTC to your time) and lasting about seven hours.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.