Scientists believe they found and recovered fragments of a meteorite off the coast of Grays Harbor County on Monday.
"I'm cautiously optimistic, not ready to be definitive about it but the first look at the samples, it looks like we got what we came for," said Dr. Marc Fries, a cosmic dust curator with NASA who was on the expedition. "All these little pieces appear to be meteoritic in origin."
Fries never thought he’d be giving a lecture about items on the ocean floor. But after a meteor fell into the Pacific Ocean after lighting up the skies near the Washington coast on March 7, Fries' focus went underwater.
Fries was part of a team of researchers who spent Monday looking for pieces of the meteor about 15 miles off the coast, where weather satellites suggested meteorites landed.
Along with NASA researchers, NOAA scientists worked with the Ocean Exploration Trust on the one-day mission using two remotely operated underwater vehicles.
Fries will take the samples back to NASA headquarters where he will determine if the pieces are indeed from space.
He admits he’s rooting for the fragments to be meteorites, but said he will do his best to be objective.
“As a scientist, I want to be unbiased, I want to be logical,” said Fries. “At the same time, I’m looking at these things saying, ‘Yeah! This is awesome!'"
Fries said if he confirms the fragments are meteorites, the pea-sized pieces will be sent to the Smithsonian Institute and could end up on public display.
Monday's targeted search for meteorites had never happened before. Fries said if the fragments are confirmed to be from the meteor, the discovery would be the first of its kind.
Researchers held two public presentations Thursday in Port Angeles and Aberdeen to present their findings.