Way back in the summer of 2002 in this very ezine I wrote a piece about the Independence, Missouri chondrite, an observed fall from 1917. The single 880g mass was recovered shortly after it fell by Edward Keesling who “heard a hissing/buzzing sound, and then observed a dark object falling to the ground on the side of a dirt road.”
Keesling kept the stone until his death whereby it became property of his son. Some time later, Alan Shaw learned of the stone and was able to purchase it from the family.
Independence is listed as an L6 chondrite, and was oriented in form. In the past decade, much of Independence was sliced up and distributed across the collecting community. I was lucky early on to acquire a nice complete slice of the fall. At the time, it was one of the largest slices of Independence in any collection. More recently, however, I was able to add the “main mass” of Independence into my collection.
An oriented stone has a leading edge or side, and a trailing side. The fact that the stone was not tumbling on an axis perpendicular to its direction of travel allows the atmospheric shaping of the stone to become pointed on one end, and flat on the other. Generally the leading or pointed end of the stone is the most exciting, and happily the slicing of Independence preserved the most active portion of its exterior.
At the moment, the main mass of Independence is just shy of 200g, or about one quarter of the initial mass (assuming a 10% cutting loss). Given many main masses, a twenty-five percent stake in any given meteorite is a serious commitment, but such a large relationship with a historic witnessed fall is truly a match made from Heaven. I cannot say it with certainty, but at the moment I am guessing that “till death do us part” will be when I let go of Independence.
The year 2017 is not too far off meaning that in four years I will raise a toast to Independence celebrating the 100th anniversary of its fall! And also to Edward Keesling who had not only had the good fortune of witnessing a meteorite hit the earth, but also the wherewithal to preserve it for future generations.
Until next time….