How Do You Trace a Meteorite Back To Its Home?

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It’s virtually impossible to tell where a meteorite comes from, but in 2018, scientists were able to pull a feat of forensic astronomy and do just that.

Tags: scishow, scishow space, Space, Science, hank green, astrophysics, astronomy, meteor, meteorite, track, impact

  1. Ntsej Fam Yaj

    … but can you trace back a kidney stone?

  2. Lan Dar

    I like this guy, he does a great job.

  3. The haunt

    Yeah but how do they know the asteroid didn’t hit onather asteroid and changed trajectory or is this one of the assumptions

  4. Amanita Muscaria

    So this was the second asteroid that was detected before hitting. Still all i hear about possible asteroid hits is, there is no chance for big rock hitting earth or possible maybe in million years we know all rocks orbiting. Like just hmmmmmmm.

  5. Jessica L

    “Forensic astronomy” is such a cool term that I never expected to hear today.

  6. Route 20

    I can see it now. A space agency announces there is to be a meteor landing somewhere in a large inhabited area like a city and it’s suburbs, somewhere within a 2 or so hour window. Many people are standing outside looking at the sky in that geographic area in that timeframe. They see a large flash indicating the meteor has hit the atmosphere while looking up they didn’t notice the tiny piece flying at them. They get hit in the head and suffer a welt and a mild concussion. One hell of a story that person would have.

  7. Thanh Nguyen Xuan

    Bringing flower age, living in exile

  8. Tyler North

    Can someone reply the formulas to do it at home

  9. TonyK3130

    STEM Rocks!!!

  10. Rick Rubenstein

    “The asteroid was 1.5 meters across and weighed as much as an African elephant. It landed in a game reserve in Botswana, where it tragically struck and killed an African elephant.”

  11. Austin Hibdon

    Forensic astronomy? These CSI spinoffs are getting super specific.

  12. CX32

    Need an orbital sweeper

  13. Jacob H

    Someone grab a pin-board and some red string, because this, although amazing incredible, is also crazy XD.

  14. Union Guy

    And when I’m older they’ll come out with some discovery that “makes us question everything we thought we knew about meteorite origins”.

  15. Michael Smith

    How do you a trace a meteorite back to it’s home?
    By getting it to keep talking so you can hack the server and trace the call

  16. Spencer Thompson

    That is amazing I love science!

  17. Michael Fisher

    A real life quest for mysterious shards.

  18. New Message

    You get hold of its phone, right… then….

  19. Extraneus

    just think if we could map the movement of all matter. kinda hard with free will causing chaos in the movement though

  20. Laura S.

    Incredible predictions

  21. m_train1

    Cannot use crater analysis which has been around centuries because too many variables upon entering atmosphere.

  22. Ashley P

    Now I want to know how they determine the age of craters on extraterrestrial bodies.

  23. Brian Matthews

    Let’s do a “Return to sender” mission and put them back.

  24. Excalibruhhh

    For those who are interested: Adding to the mystery of the cause, one can use the direction of entry of impact into the gravitational pull of Earth to find the inclination of its orbit. This classifies their entry regions (source areas). Each source area like 3:1, nu6 or Hungaria class of NEOs, can tell more of their formation history. (Source:my masters thesis using Catalina data and ESA for Flyeye).

  25. omanand boora


  26. omanand boora

    What is meteorite hunter??

  27. Shanghaimartin

    Ok guys, you’ve had your fun, using that new intro that someone’s 8yr old nephew made, joke’s over, can we go back to the professional looking one please?

  28. Klaus conte schertel


  29. chegeny

    Forensic astronomical studies have pointed to the Flora family of asteroids as the source of the Chicxulub impactor that caused the extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Fascinating what number crunching and careful observations can accomplish.

  30. Carbon No6

    It’s also insane they were able to detect a meteor that was less than 8ft.

  31. Pierre Abbat

    Motopi Pan has funicity!

  32. arkansasorigami83

    THANKS SciShow for your fun videos!

  33. Dixie Ten Broeck

    *One doesn’t “REVERSE ENGINEER” a trajectory!!!* Try “reverse track,” or “reverse plot,” instead. (“Reverse engineer,” *good grief, how LAME!)*

  34. Jack Martinelli

    Impressive – relatively (according to BBT, you can trace a single photon back to it’s “starting position” at the first moment of the creation of all of our universe) – soooo not that impressive?

  35. Anton W

    No such thing as forensuc astronomy. Forensics are the studies used in investigating crimes. “Sci” should use scientific terms correctly.

  36. Organon

    “Deb’riss?” – Gav.

  37. Tom

    5:34 “don’t say Space-Time”

  38. Lois Hawkey

    Stop marketing to children and stop selling plastic Murch it’s awful I mean come on now

  39. MrEnjoivolcom1

    Haha, ha…shards!

  40. Mikael Christensen

    That is freaking cool! 😀

  41. Ron Colvin

    Oh hog wash, all that rock out in space and they ” pinpointed ” it’s origin, sounds great but what a ferry tail.

  42. Pup314

    Do we know where Apophis comes from?

  43. Trag 1804

    I understand the appeal of astronomy, I just don’t see the benefit

  44. Glorywhole

    Narrowing it down to a 3500 square kilometer area is still really impressive.

  45. dijasom

    bad ass!

  46. crovax 13

    …So you don’t check the return address?

  47. Glenn Babić

    Impossible and lame. These guys need to get real jobs.

  48. Mantas

    “Mass of an African elephant” man, Americans will use ANYTHING to avoid the metric system!

  49. evilotis01

    ok that is AMAZING

  50. Defiance

    How can Vesta be the confirmed asteroid when only 2 have been studied? There may be hundred – if not more – asteroids with Vesta’s composition

  51. Benson

    1:02 <--- Wait, hold on a second. So even if we had a way to prevent a meteor from becoming a meteorite, we couldn't use it? Having only found two *_before_* they hit us shows just how hard they are to spot.

  52. Ronaldo Brito Roque

    Is it possible that a comet, when passing near earth, exales water and the gravity of earth can absorve this water and be a little more wet?

  53. Trollerjak the Trolling G

    Fun fact: We have a few candidates for the origin point for the Chixculub Impactor, the asteroid that wiped out the non-Avian dinosaurs, the most promising being the Flora Family in the asteroid belt.

  54. Vartoc

    Easy, just grab the license plate number

  55. Michael Holst

    How incredible! Every day our knowledge and skill for navigating the solar system grows. I cant wait to see what it eventually blossoms into

  56. S Brits


  57. Daxxon Jabiru

    You don’t?

  58. Shannon Wilson

    Pretty sure its easy to figure where things come from, just like in life, just look in the direction ot came from and use math…

  59. Domyras

    ?! but HOW did they walk around a giant area and look at every rock like
    “not a meteorite, not a meteorite, not a meteorite, …” ?!
    i have some serious questions

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