Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fireball over Ohio and other meteor and asteroid news

I concluded Fireball over Indiana seen from Michigan with this programming note.
I have more news about meteors and meteorites on tap, which I promise to post later.
Events have added to the meteor news since then, as WCPO just reported Meteors light up Cincinnati sky.

An expert from the Cincinnati Observatory explains the recent celestial happenings.
NASA caught one of the fireballs on camera, which shows in Large Fireball Seen Streaking Over Ohio.

A meteoroid traveling at ~114,000 mph, slammed into Earth's atmosphere almost directly over Columbus, Ohio. It was visible from 14 U.S. States. NASA's all-sky camera in Hiram, Ohio captured the fireworks at 11:33pm EDT on Sept. 27th, 2013. (looped)
That's not the same meteor in the previous report from WOOD-TV.  Just the same, it's not necessarily a sign of greater activity, just greater awareness and opportunity.  As the astronomer noted in the WCPO video, people are more likely to see meteors at this time of the year.  That's the opportunity.  Follow over the jump for the other meteor and asteroid stories, including ones about the reason for the increased awareness.

First, Becky Oskin of LiveScience asked via Did Ancient Earth-Chilling Meteor Crash Near Canada?
A meteor or comet impact near Quebec heaved a rain of hot melted rock along North America's Atlantic Coast about 12,900 years ago, a new study claims.

Scientists have traced the geochemical signature of the BB-sized spherules that rained down back to their source, the 1.5-billion-year-old Quebecia terrane in northeastern Canada near the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. At the time of the impact, the region was covered by a continental ice sheet, like Antarctica and Greenland are today.

"We have provided evidence for an impact on top of the ice sheet," said study co-author Mukul Sharma, a geochemist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. The results were published today (Sept. 2) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This is an update of Hot (not): a cold blast from the past and is an example of why meteor impacts should be taken seriously.

Next, Clara Moskowitz of reports on the reason for the increased awareness in Russian Meteor Explosion: Space Rock Had Near-Misses Before Impact.
August 26, 2013 06:15pm ET
The meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February likely had a near miss before it hit Earth, possibly with another solar system object or a too-close graze by the sun, scientists have found.

The bus-size space rock was largely vaporized by the heat of impact with Earth's atmosphere, but many fragments survived to crash into the ground as meteorites when it hit on Feb. 15. The impact shattered windows, damaged property and injured more than 1,000 people in the city, which lies 950 miles (1,500 km) east of Moscow.

Analysis of the meteorites that crashed into Russia's Chebarkul Lake has found interesting geologic signatures in the rock fragments. Some meteorites show evidence of melting, caused by intense heating, before they ever reached Earth's atmosphere.
That's not the only finding about the event.  NASA Explorer shows how NPP Sees Aftermath of the Chelyabinsk Meteor.

A meteor weighing 10,000 metric tons exploded only 23km above the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia on February 15, 2013. Unlike previous such events, this time scientists had the highly sensitive OMPS instrument on NPP to deliver unprecedented data and help them track and study the meteor plume for months. This video shows how accurately the model prediction coincided with the satellite observations.
Dr. Tony Phillips, writing in the Lake County News has more in Space News: NASA tracks Russian meteor plume.
Atmospheric physicist Nick Gorkavyi missed witnessing an event of the century last winter when a meteor exploded over his hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia.

From Greenbelt, Md., however, NASA’s Gorkavyi and colleagues witnessed the atmospheric aftermath. The explosion created a never-before-seen belt of “meteor dust” that circulated through the stratosphere for at least three months.

Shortly after dawn on Feb. 15, 2013, the meteor, or bolide, measuring 18 meters across and weighing 11,000 metric tons, screamed into Earth’s atmosphere at 41,600 miles per hour.
After discovering that in Russia, space explores you, I'd say people are justified in their greater awareness.

There is a plan for dealing with the threat of asteroid impacts. However, it has issues beyond the technical ones, as Leonard David of asks Is NASA's Plan to Lasso an Asteroid Really Legal?
NASA's ambitious asteroid-capture mission is seemingly being blueprinted with little dialogue about whether or not it is actually legal.

NASA intends to grab an asteroid and drag it to a stable orbit near the moon, where it can be visited by astronauts, perhaps as early as 2021. But does this bold plan run afoul of 1967's Outer Space Treaty (OST), which provides the basic framework of international space law, or 1972's Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects? asked several lawyers with space specialties to offer views about the legality of tagging, bagging and shoving an asteroid around.
The verdict?  It's legal.

Finally, Mike Wall of explains why not all meteorite impacts (pun intended) are bad in Earth Life Likely Came from Mars, Study Suggests.
We may all be Martians.

Evidence is building that Earth life originated on Mars and was brought to this planet aboard a meteorite, said biochemist Steven Benner of The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Florida.

An oxidized form of the element molybdenum, which may have been crucial to the origin of life, was likely available on the Red Planet's surface long ago, but unavailable on Earth, said Benner, who presented his findings today (Aug. 28; Aug. 29 local time) at the annual Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Florence, Italy.
I never thought I'd see panspermia look respectable.

I'll return after midnight for a final day of posts on this month's theme of Serve, although I expect to continue with the election entries well into November.  Until then, I leave you all with this reminder.

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