Luke, Martin and Jarryd headed off to Wolfe Creek meteorite crater in remote WA last week. The plan was to make a 3D image of the crater using a drone, map the crater, take some samples (to analyse for shock or melt glass and confirm the date of impact) and combine it all to make a virtual fieldwork laboratory so that anyone can zoom around the crater, looking at various rocks and features.

Luke’s journal continues …

crater in circle
Wolfe Creek Crater

Dear diary,

I was woken up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 am due to the sound of – no wind! After a hastily consumed breakfast, we bombed it to the crater to get the drone up and flying. Just as well really – it really wasn’t happy even with a light breeze. With the drone up and flying, I went around the crater, halfway up the rim. I was aiming to find rocks that hadn’t moved too much since the impact. I failed. They all seemed to have moved but in science, a negative result is still a result! I took some more samples and then walked around the bunch of trees in the centre, planning to map the sink holes after lunch. In doing so, I managed to disturb repeatedly a mob of red kangaroos who were just trying to relax. Sorry guys. I also realised that the slithering tracks (which I had previously attributed to snakes and was keeping an eye out for) were the tail prints of kangaroos! Who knew … Don’t answer that, probably everyone knows, but it was news to me!

Martin came to find me because the wind had picked up and the drone was out of action again. I was given the task of photographing the crater from the cardinal points of a compass to do a stereo-wotsit-photography-thingy which makes it all pretty and 3D (if you want to be sciencey about it, you might call it a stereogram). This had to be done in the hottest part of the day to avoid shadows – lucky me!

I got back to be informed that the drone was broken – beyond repair broken. Unfortunately not in the crashed-and-burned way, more in the annoying-firmware-not-talking-to-itself kind of way. As luck would have it, a Swiss couple happened to be on the rim their own drone. Theirs was a much better drone that could cope with moving air and equipped with a GoPro. They were really kind and let us use their footage as well!

We then decided that since the drone was broken we could go and find another crater – Snelling Crater. Off we drove and after a 1 km hike from the road through spinifex (my mortal enemy) found nothing. We walked to the next guess spot, found nothing and so turned and walked, crestfallen, back to the car.

At the centre of Wolfe Creek crater, there’s a (relatively) lush green patch

As the daylight was quickly fading, we decided to camp right there next to the creek. We got our campfire going and had rosemary lamb chops with cheesy mashed potato, carrots and broccolini – bliss. I should make a note: the more time spent in the car meant that we hadn’t gone through as much water as yesterday so we could spare some for boiling the veggies.

We turned on our torches to see what we were eating which turned out to be a big mistake. Immediately, we were surrounded by a swarm of flies, moths and other flying insects. We swiftly turned them off after some obligatory photos and put a bunch of wood on the fire, watching gleefully as the insects flooded into that instead. We couldn’t really see what we were eating and just had to hope that no bugs had drowned in the gravy. Again we had an early night, but not before a beautiful red, three second fireball shot past overhead and broke up. Nice.

bugs around light
Just a few of the visitors for dinner