Stolen Meteorite Found at a Tennis Court

Here’s a bit of good news: the Serooskerken meteorite, which was stolen from the Sonnenborgh Museum and Observatory in Utrecht, Netherlands on Monday night, has been recovered. It was found in a bag left in some bushes alongside a tennis court and turned in to the police.

It’s not quite “game, set, match” though; unfortunately the meteorite was broken during the theft. (See a photo here via Twitter follower Marieke Baan.) Still, the Sonnenborgh Museum director is glad to have the pieces back, which he said will remain useful for research and can still be exhibited. (Source)

The Serooskerken meteorite was recovered from a fall in the Dutch province of Zeeland on August 28, 1925. Classified as a diogenite (HED) it is thought to have originated from the protoplanet Vesta, the second most massive object in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter (and the previous target of NASA’s Dawn mission.) It is one of only five meteorite specimens ever recovered in the Netherlands.

The meteorite was one of several items reported stolen from the Sonnenborgh Museum on the night of August 18-19, 2014.

Find out more about the recovery (in Dutch) and see photos here.

HT to Google+ Space Community member Andre van der Hoeven for the update on this story.

A Piece of Vesta Has Been Stolen!

Calling all meteorite collectors and enthusiasts! There’s a hot space rock at large and, as Indiana Jones would say, it belongs in a museum. Perhaps you can help put it back in one.

Mosaic synthesizes some of the best views the spacecraft had of the giant asteroid Vesta. Dawn studied Vesta. The towering mountain at the south pole - more than twice the height of Mount Everest - is visible at the bottom of the image. The set of three craters known as the "snowman" can be seen at the top left. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA
Mosaic of the asteroid Vesta made from images acquired by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA

On Aug. 19 a burglary was reported at the Sonnenborgh Museum and Observatory in Utrecht, Netherlands, and one of the items missing is a meteorite that is thought to have originated from the asteroid Vesta.

Seen above in a photo from the museum’s collection, the Meteorite of Serooskerken was recovered from a rare fall in 1925 in the province of Zeeland. Only five meteorites have ever been found in the Netherlands, making the Serooskerken specimen somewhat of a national treasure – not to mention a valuable piece of our Solar System’s history!

About 5–6% of all the meteorites found on Earth are thought to be from Vesta, the second-largest world in the main asteroid belt. (Source)

It doesn’t sound like the meteorite was the target of the burglary, but rather it just happened to be included with other things taken from the museum’s safe.

If you have any information on the burglary or see this meteorite offered up for sale anywhere, please report it to the Sonnenborgh Museum here.

If you are a Dutch-speaker, audio of the news can be found here. (Any translations would be welcome in the comments!)

HT to Google+ Space Community member Andre van der Hoeven.