The Geminid meteoroid stream as a potential meteorite dropper: a case study

Madiedo, J. M.; Trigo-Rodriguez, J. M.; Castro-Tirado, A. J.; Ortiz, J. L.; Cabrera-Caño, J.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 436, Issue 3, p.2818-2823 (2013).


A Geminid fireball with an absolute magnitude of -13 was observed over the south of Spain on Dec. 15, 2009. This extraordinarily bright event (the brightest Geminid ever recorded by our team) was imaged from two meteor observing stations operated by the SPanish Meteor Network (SPMN). The bolide exhibited fast and quasi-periodic variations in brightness, a behaviour typically associated to the rotation of the parent meteoroid. The inferred tensile strength of this particle was found to be significantly higher that the typical values obtained for Geminid meteoroids. The fireball penetrated in the atmosphere till a final height of about 25 km above the ground level and a non-zero terminal mass was calculated at the ending point of the luminous trajectory. In this way, the observational evidence points to the existence of a population of meteoroids in the higher end of the Geminid mass distribution capable of producing meteorites. From the relative chemical abundances inferred from the emission spectrum of this bolide we conclude that the Geminid-forming materials are similar to some primitive carbonaceous chondrite groups. Then, we conclude that in meteorite collections from cold deserts, capable to preserve meteorites of few tens of grams, some rare groups of carbonaceous chondrites could be coming from the Geminid parent body: (3200) Phaeton.