Why is the Bruderheim Meteorite so important?

The Bruderheim Meteorite is the largest recovered meteorite fall in Canadian history. It occurred at the onset of the ‘space age’—only three years prior, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial Earth satellite that triggered the ‘space race’ between the Soviet Union and the United States. The Sputnik launch led directly to the creation of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and spawned pioneering efforts to launch other artificial satellites, unmanned probes of the Moon, Venus, and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon. As preparations began to accomplish these feats, the Bruderheim Meteorite provided scientists with valuable insight.

“The collection of Bruderheim meteorites and trades in the decades that followed are responsible for most of the growth of the University of Alberta Meteorite Collection into the largest University-based meteorite collection in Canada.  And the collection still contains over 145 kg of Bruderheim meteorites!" (Dr. Chris Herd, University of Alberta)

Specimens of the Bruderheim Meteorite have yielded much information on the nature of radiation in space, the origin and nature of the solar system, and the universe. Data accumulated in the scientific literature suggests that the Bruderheim Meteorite may be one of the world’s most extensively studied chondritic meteorites.

Fast Facts about the Bruderheim Meteorite

  • It fell at 1:06 a.m. on March 4th, 1960
  • Nearly 700 meteorite fragments were found with a total weight of over 660 pounds, making it the largest recovered meteorite fall in Canadian history
  • It is a ‘stony’ meteorite of the ‘chondrite’ variety, formed at the birth of our solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago
  • It is composed primarily of the minerals Olivine and Hypersthene with a mix of iron and nickel
  • Fragments struck the ground almost vertically at terminal velocity, approximately 320 kilometers per hour at impact
  • The largest fragment found weighed 66 pounds