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No chunks of St. Louis meteor found yet

ST. LOUIS – NASA says a meteor seen streaking through the sky behind the Gateway Arch was a basketball-size hunk of rock that broke off from an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that experts used hundreds of witness accounts from as far away as South Dakota and Minnesota along with two videos to calculate information about the meteor.

They determined that the approximately 220-pound rock traveled through the sky Monday night at 33,500 mph, causing a sonic boom. A NASA weather satellite helped the agency confirm it was brighter than Venus in the sky, making it a fireball.

Bill Cooke, of the NASA Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Ala., said it broke into pieces 12 miles above the ground.

Now, meteorite hunters are scouring farm fields for remnants of the rock.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that several Washington University researchers and a separate duo that included Science Channel show “Meteorite Men” costar Steve Arnold began their search Wednesday. They used NASA weather radar data to find a promising field in Warren County, about 70 miles west of St. Louis.

They found nothing in that field, nor in a nearby cattle pasture after data suggested that wind may have changed the meteorite’ path. The scientists called it quits after about 7 ½ hours of searching, although they said they might try again another day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

June Heath

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