Most residents of Botswana had no idea that a bright white fireball would explode in the sky on June 2. It lit up the sky as it zoomed through the upper atmosphere, illuminating the region in a strange white glow before it exploded in a flash of light. Since then, researchers have been scouring the area for traces of the asteroid, and on Monday, they announced their success: After days of searching in the desert, they’d found a piece of the once-great fireball.
The fragment of asteroid 2018 LA was discovered in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which, at 20,400 square miles, is the second-largest reserve of its kind in the world. To find it in that enormous swath of the Kalahari desert, researchers from the SETI Institute, the University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute, NASA, and the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa combed through surveillance videos and other footage to calculate the meteor’s exact position and altitude.
They got a headstart by using data collected by the University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey, which actually spotted the asteroid eight hours before it raced toward Earth.