THE ‘Rite Stuff

A U planetary scientist helped analyze and name the heavenly culprit behind a raucous boom heard by thousands

Jim Karner has trekked almost annually to Antartica on expeditions looking for meteorites. The research associate professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics has probably seen and handled more cosmic debris than most will see in a lifetime. But on the morning of August 13, 2022, he—along with the rest of the northern Wasatch Front—heard one explode, for the first time.“That was really loud,” he remembers thinking as he stood in his driveway. “My immediate thought was, ‘Wow, that sounds like what people have described as meteorites exploding and breaking the sound barrier.’ ”

Within days, a piece of what would eventually be named the Great Salt Lake meteorite made its way into Karner’s hands, giving him and the U an opportunity to learn what secrets of space this chunk of rock brought with it to the Salt Lake Valley.

Read the full story by Paul Gabrielsen in U Magazine.