Blimp-riding scientists search for meteorites in California
Peter Jenniskens, right, the NASA scientist in charge of a group of researchers searching for pieces of a meteorite, walk to the zeppelin, Eureka, at McClellan Air Park in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, May 3, 2012. (AP / Rich Pedroncelli)
Published Thursday, May 3, 2012 7:26PM EDT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A group of scientists has taken to the skies in search of meteorites that fell over California's gold country last month.
The researchers from NASA and the SETI Institute departed from Sacramento aboard a blimp Thursday afternoon. From the air, they hope to spot sites where large fragments fell and follow up with a search party.
Since the meteor exploded in the atmosphere over the Sierra Nevada on April 22, scientists and amateur meteorite hunters have recovered tiny pieces from the event, mostly in a region where James W. Marshall first discovered gold in California in 1848.
NASA estimates the minivan-sized meteor released energy equal to one-third the explosive force of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It was seen from Sacramento to Las Vegas.