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Photographic observations of Neuschwanstein, a second meteorite from the orbit of the Příbram chondrite

Abstract

Photographic observations of meteoroids passing through the atmosphere provide information about the population of interplanetary bodies in the Earth's vicinity in the size range from 0.1 m to several metres. It is extremely rare that any of these meteoroids survives atmospheric entry to be recovered as a meteorite on the ground. Příbram was the first meteorite (an ordinary chondrite) with a photographically determined orbit; it fell on 7 April 1959 (ref. 1). Here we report the fourth meteorite fall to be captured by camera networks. We determined the atmospheric trajectory and pre-atmospheric orbit of the object from the photographic records. One 1.75-kg meteorite—named Neuschwanstein and classified as an enstatite chondrite2—was recovered within the predicted impact area. The bolide's heliocentric orbit is exceptional as it is almost identical to the orbit of Příbram, suggesting that we have discovered a ‘stream’ of meteoritic objects in an Earth-crossing orbit. The chemical classifications and cosmic-ray exposure ages of the two meteorites are quite different, however, which implies a heterogeneous stream.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the local operators at European Fireball Network (EN) stations for their service at the time of the Neuschwanstein fall, and the finder of the meteorite for the positional information. We also thank J. Keclíková for measuring all photographic records, and Z. Ceplecha and J. Borovička for discussions and contributions to analysis software. The German part of the EN is operated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Berlin, the Czech part of the EN is operated by the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Ondřejov, and the Austrian station is maintained by the Gahberg Observatory.

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Correspondence to Pavel Spurný.

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Figure 1: Map of part of central Europe, showing the projection of the Neuschwanstein atmospheric trajectory on the Earth's surface and the position of the optical instruments of the European Fireball Network.
Figure 2: The Neuschwanstein meteorite.
Figure 3: Comparison of meteorite orbits.

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