Scientists Try for 1st-Ever Meteorite Recovery at Sea
Exploration Vessel Nautilus.
Credit: Ocean Exploration Trust

On March 7 of this year, a bright meteorite (called a bolide) fall was observed about 15 miles (25 kilometers) off the coast of Grays Harbor County, Washington.

Ocean Exploration Trust is working with scientists from Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, NASA and the University of Washington to locate the meteorite fall. You can follow their mission live here: http://www.nautiluslive.org

The Exploration Vessel Nautilus mapped a 0.4 square mile (1 square kilometer) patch of ocean, which is being searched by remotely operated underwater vehicles, called Hercules and Argus. If these robotic submarines find anything, it will be big news — the first known recovery of a meteorite from the ocean.

One dive occurred yesterday (July 2), from approximately 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. EDT (1600 to 2300 GMT; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. local Washington time), mission team members said in an update. You can learn more about the meteorite hunt, which runs through Wednesday (July 4), in this video

An analysis by NASA Cosmic Dust Curator Marc Fries, who is aboard Nautilus for the expedition, indicates that this fall contained about two tons of meteorites. Fries estimates that, at the fall site for the largest meteorite, there may be two to three meteorites for every 110 square feet (10 square meters) of seafloor.

Remotely operated underwater vehicles have scoured the ocean floor for meteorites that fell to Earth in March 2018 off the coast of Washington State.
Remotely operated underwater vehicles have scoured the ocean floor for meteorites that fell to Earth in March 2018 off the coast of Washington State.
Credit: Ocean Exploration Trust

Support for this expedition comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, the Ocean Exploration Trust and the National Geographic Society.

Leonard David is author of "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet," published by National Geographic. The book is a companion to the National Geographic Channel series "Mars." A longtime writer for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. This version of the story published on Space.com.