Fragments of the Sutter’s Mill Meteorite that fell to the Earth with a thundering boom on Sunday, April 22nd at 7:51 am. Credit: P. Jenniskens.

NASA and the SETI Institute are asking the public for more information to help find amateur photos and video footage of the daylight meteor that illuminated the sky over the Sierra Nevada mountains and created sonic booms that were heard over a wide area at 7:51 a.m. PDT Sunday, April 22, 2012.

NASA and SETI scientists are seeking photos and video footage to better analyze the trajectory of the meteor and learn about its orbit in space. This information will also help scientists to locate the places along the meteor path where fragments may have fallen to the ground.

NASA Ames and SETI Institute meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens found a four-gram fragment of the meteor in a parking lot of Henningsen-Lotus Park, in Lotus, Calif., located on the American River not far from Sutter’s Mill– the historic site where the Gold Nugget that started the California Gold Rush.

“This appears to be a rare type of primitive meteorite rich in organic compounds,” Jenniskens said. “This is the stuff our Solar System is made of, it is 4.5 billion years old and may contain amino acids and other material that cannot be found on Earth.” Jenniskens is a meteor astronomer who is an expert at tracking down meteorites that were seen streaking across the sky.

“We are very interested in this rare find,” said Greg Schmidt, deputy director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute. “With the public’s help, this could lead to a better understanding of these fascinating objects and may provide clues to how life on Earth originated.”

People who have photos or video of the meteorite are asked to contact Jenniskens at Media interested in interviewing Jenniskens and viewing the fragment are asked to contact Karen Randall of the SETI Institute at 650-575-2229.

For more information about NASA Ames, visit:

Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff
Source: Peter Jenniskens

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