Search for fireballs across WA

Angela Pownall
Sky show: A meteor captured by a camera at Perenjori. Picture: Desert Fireball Network

Planetary scientists believe the fireball spotted over WA 12 days ago was one of the fastest ever seen, streaking across the sky at 35km a second.

To survive such a high-speed entry into Earth's atmosphere, experts also think the meteor was made of metal, weighed 100-200kg and could have been as big as a washing machine.

Scientists from Curtin University's Desert Fireball Network have been examining six videos shot by stunned witnesses who saw the fireball about 9.30am on Monday, March 9.

Phil Bland said experts believed a meteorite dropped about 30km south-south-west of Moora, about 200km north of Perth.

But their work is being made more difficult because all the videos were shot from Perth, giving them only one viewpoint.

"We pull the individual frames apart and try and work out in each frame exactly where the fireball was in the sky," Professor Bland said.

"That means you have to go to the location and work out the angle it was and the compass direction. Once we've got that for each frame, we can get different bits of data and work out where it was in 3-D in the atmosphere and also the speed."

Professor Bland said that with the help of Curtin's Department of Spatial Sciences, they hoped to accurately pinpoint the meteorite's landing spot.

Then the scientists would organise a search of an area up to 20sqkm and call for volunteers to help look for fragments.

Professor Bland said people could keep an eye out in the Moora area for black fragments that could be as big as a fist.

"It might be metal, weirdly heavy and magnetic," he said. "If it's metal, it would have dimples like someone poking fingers into clay. It's distinctive. It will look very different to regular rock."

The March 9 meteorite is one of about 10 the Desert Fireball Network experts plan to search for soon. They have 32 cameras erected in the WA bush and have picked up numerous fireballs believed to be meteorites.