scatter ellipse

A scatter ellipse. also known as a dispersion ellipse, is the pattern of distribution on the ground formed by the fragments from a meteorite that broke up in the atmosphere. It is the pattern typically shown by a strewn field. The long axis of the scatter ellipse coincides with the inbound flight path, and the end to which the meteorite was traveling contains the larger fragments, since, being heavier, they required more braking, and traveled further before arcing down under gravity. The specifics of a scatter ellipse are determined by the height at which the meteorite broke up and the momentum of the individual fragments.