Bright flash sparks search for meteorite remnants off Wash. coast

The sky lights up in Washington on March 7, 2018, in this still image from video by Derek Hnilica.

TAHOLAH, Wash. - A bright flash that lit up the skies over Western Washington back in March is now the subject of a scientific expedition at sea.

The flash lit up the nighttime sky - and it lit up social media, too - as people started speculating what could have caused it.

"I saw a huge flash of what appeared to be orange light, light up the entire horizon to the west," Grays Harbor County Sheriff Rick Scott said at the time.

Experts later said the flash was likely a meteor that landed in the Pacific Ocean off the Washington coast. And now scientists have begun searching the seafloor there for remnants of the meteorite.

NASA's curator of cosmic dust, Marc Fries, is leading the hunt for the massive meteor on Monday in waters off Grays Harbor County.

The Seattle Times reports that Fries used weather radar to locate the splashdown zone about 16 miles offshore of the Quinault Indian Nation village of Taholah.

On Monday he'll have the help of the vessel Nautilus operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust, founded by explorer Robert Ballard. The crew agreed to devote a day and their sophisticated equipment.

Watch the search live ...

Fries says he's optimistic about finding meteorites partly because the space rock that exploded in a fireball and sonic boom was huge. He says about 2 tons of rock survived the plunge and scattered over a half-mile of seafloor.

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