Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Full Article issued by InnovationAus.

Researchers at Curtin University have recovered a meteorite from the Western Australian outback using a new ai-powered drone.

The meteorite was recovered from the remote Kybo cattle station in 2021 by lead researcher graduate student Seamus Anderson, after it had been tracked by the ARC-supported Desert Fireball Network.

Before the meteorite was recovered, its likely 'fall zone' could be predicted based on its approximate mass and trajectory. The drone was sent in to take thousands of images of the ground in this area, and these images were then processed on a computer using a special algorithm that searches for meteorite-like objects. Mr Anderson said the successful deployment of this method could greatly increase the number of meteorites that are recovered, especially when combined with the tracking capabilities of the Desert Fireball network.

Normally to recover a meteorite, teams of people spread out over the landscape and try to locate it on foot. The drone-powered method cuts down on time and labour and is likely to be more successful as well.

Mr Anderson said that increasing meteorite recovery not only has the potential to facilitate scientific research, but also presents significant commercial opportunities.

Photo credit: 

The team led by Seamus Anderson were able to find the meteorite within four days of being on site. Image credit: iStockphoto.com