quarta-feira, 26 de dezembro de 2012

That meteorite which blew-up over California last April is one of the rarest ever found

This past April, a 100,000 pound (45,360 kg) meteorite exploded above the skies of Sutter's Mill, California. Streaking in at a speed of 64,000 miles per hour (103,000 km/hr or 28.6 km/s) — about twice the speed of typical meteorite falls — it hit with the energy of a quarter of a Hiroshima bomb, making it the biggest impact over land since a four meter-sized asteroid broke-up over Sudan four years ago. And now, after recovering and analyzing the ensuing meteorite fragments, scientists have realized that it's an incredibly ancient form of rock — one that may have brought compounds crucial for life to Earth.
After disintegrating over California in a 4-kiloton explosion, a team of scientists (including NASA researchers from Ames) scrambled to recover the fragments.

They managed to find a paltry 205 grams worth in the form of 77 pieces, but it was enough to conduct an analysis. They located the exact region where the fragments fell by using doppler weather radar — the first time this technique was used for such a purpose.

Based on photographs of the fireball, the object entered into Earth's atmosphere at an unusually low-inclined comet-like orbit that at one point reached the orbit of Mercury. Consequently, it passed closer to the sun than other recovered meteorites. But at the same time, it experienced an unusually short exposure to cosmic rays. The scientists suspect that it circled the sun three times during a single orbit of Jupiter, an important piece of insight into the object's point of origin.

The ensuing study, which was conducted by Peter Brown and colleagues at Western University and Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute, reveals that it was a rare carbonaceous chondrite meteorite — a so-called C-class asteroid that likely came from the Eulalia asteroid family. This is a very primitive class of asteroids that are very rarely discovered. Specifically, it's a regolith breccia that originated from near the surface of an ancient asteroid, possibly in the vicinity of Jupiter.

And importantly, the debris contained carbon. It's rocks like these, say the scientists, that contributed to the early organic chemistry on Earth — the same carbon atoms that can be found in biological matter.

Interestingly, NASA plans on sending astronauts to asteroids like these on future missions.

You can read the entire paper at Science.

Source: http://io9.com

segunda-feira, 17 de dezembro de 2012

Antarctic meteorite hunters

For more than 35 years, scientists from the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) program have been scouring glacial landscapes in search of meteorites. Since 1976, teams of physicists, meteorite specialists, and mountaineers have recovered thousands of untouched specimens from meteoroids, the moon and even Mars. Despite subzero temperatures and razor-sharp winds, scientists are lining up for the chance to experience the ultimate hunt for alien objects in the alien environment.

ANSMET teams either conduct systematic searches of a region or work as a scout teams making preliminary investigations of new sites that might be worth further exploration. Once discovered, the meteorites are carefully cataloged in the field and sent to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., where they are distributed to scientists for further research. What secrets will new specimens – locked away in the ice and yet to be discovered – hold about our solar system and the universe? Read the story online and find out at http://bit.ly/UtXc9R.

Read this story and more in the December issue of EARTH Magazine, available online now. Learn how mummification emerged from environmental change; discover the explosive combination of red giants and white dwarfs; and see what states are paying to dispose of low-level radioactive waste all in this month's issue of EARTH.

Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH magazine online at http://www.earthmagazine.org/. Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

Source: EARTH http://www.eurekalert.org

quarta-feira, 12 de dezembro de 2012

Meteorite ‘Tautetis’ to come closer to Earth today

Wednesday afternoon will be very special for astronomers when a large meteorite is predicted to pass closer to the earth. According to N Raghunandan Kumar, Director and secretary of Planetary Society of India, the asteroid, 4179 Tautetis, will pass very close from Earth at a distance of 69 lakh 31 thousand 175 kilometers from the blue planet.

Though, there is nothing to be scared of it. The meteorite will come closer to Earth on Wednesday afternoon. This meteorite is moving at a speed of 11.9 km per second. The meteorite comes from a region nearby Earth and it has its own orbit too. Given its large mass, it predicted that it could destroy some parts of the Earth.

The meteorite was discovered on January 4, 1989 and was named after tribal icon Tautetis. It is expected that it will come close to Earth again on December 16, 2016. Earlier it was viewed closer to the Earth on November 9, 2008. After December 16, 2016, it would not appear until 2069 in the vicinity of the Earth.

Source: http://post.jagran.com

quarta-feira, 28 de novembro de 2012

Mysterious space object in Central Highlands skies solved

The suspicious cloud of smoke which appeared in the sky on Monday is said to have been a meteorite. Plenty of Australian locals witnessed the event.

A LOUD boom followed by a cloud of smoke in the sky had many Central Highlands Australia residents taking a closer look on Monday.

Many residents speculated the theory behind the mysterious object was a meteorite heading for Earth at the speed of sound and disintegrating on entry.

A spokesman from the Bureau of Meteorology said that theory was most likely the correct explanation.

"We had a call from an Emerald resident at about 7pm (Monday night), wanting to know what it was," the spokesman said.

"It could have been a meteorite... or it may have been a bit of space debris."

If it was a meteorite, it could have been about 20,000 feet high, and the sound residents heard would have been a shockwave.

"If they come low enough they can cause a sonic boom as they enter the atmosphere lower down," the spokesman said.

"Not very loud, but distinctive … if they come into the troposphere - which is the lower atmosphere - when they lose velocity, you might hear a series of booms."

He said once it hit Earth, it would have been about the size of a small pebble and where it hit would be hard to determine.

"Depending on the direction it was coming through, it could have landed 100km (from where it was seen)," the spokesman said.

Source: http://www.cqnews.com.au

Beyond 2012: Why the World Won't End in 2012. NASA scientists answer questions on the following 2012 topics:

Beyond 2012: Why the World Won't End in 2012. NASA scientists  answer questions on the following 2012 topics:

Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.
 Answer (A):The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.

Q: What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in 2012?
 A: The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 -- hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.

Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in December 2012?
 A: Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then -- just as your calendar begins again on January 1 -- another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.

Q: Could planets align in a way that impacts Earth?
 A: There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades and even if these alignments were to occur, their effects on the Earth would be negligible. One major alignment occurred in 1962, for example, and two others happened during 1982 and 2000. Each December the Earth and sun align with the approximate center of the Milky Way Galaxy but that is an annual event of no consequence.
› More about alignment

"There apparently is a great deal of interest in celestial bodies, and their locations and trajectories at the end of the calendar year 2012. Now, I for one love a good book or movie as much as the next guy. But the stuff flying around through cyberspace, TV and the movies is not based on science. There is even a fake NASA news release out there..."

- Don Yeomans, NASA senior research scientist
Q: Is there a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru or Planet X or Eris that is approaching the Earth and threatening our planet with widespread destruction?

 A: Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye. Obviously, it does not exist. Eris is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is about 4 billion miles.

Q: What is the polar shift theory? Is it true that the Earth's crust does a 180-degree rotation around the core in a matter of days if not hours?
 A: A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. There are slow movements of the continents (for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago), but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles. However, many of the disaster websites pull a bait-and-switch to fool people. They claim a relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity of Earth, which does change irregularly, with a magnetic reversal taking place every 400,000 years on average. As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn’t cause any harm to life on Earth. Scientists believe a magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia.
› More about polar shift

Q: Is the Earth in danger of being hit by a meteor in 2012?
 A: The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and asteroids, although big hits are very rare. The last big impact was 65 million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Today NASA astronomers are carrying out a survey called the Spaceguard Survey to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit. We have already determined that there are no threatening asteroids as large as the one that killed the dinosaurs. All this work is done openly with the discoveries posted every day on the NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office website, so you can see for yourself that nothing is predicted to hit in 2012.

Q: How do NASA scientists feel about claims of the world ending in 2012?
 A: For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.
› Why you need not fear a supernova
› About super volcanoes

Q: Is there a danger from giant solar storms predicted for 2012?
 A: Solar activity has a regular cycle, with peaks approximately every 11 years. Near these activity peaks, solar flares can cause some interruption of satellite communications, although engineers are learning how to build electronics that are protected against most solar storms. But there is no special risk associated with 2012. The next solar maximum will occur in the 2012-2014 time frame and is predicted to be an average solar cycle, no different than previous cycles throughout history.
› Video: Solar Storms
› More about solar storms

Addition information concerning 2012 is available on the Web, at:
National Public Radio: "Ask A NASA Astrobiologist About Dec. 21 'Doomsday'"
NASA Astrobiology Institute: "Nibiru and Doomsday 2012"
Bad Astronomy: "The Planet X Saga: The Scientific Arguments in a Nutshell"
Sky and Telescope Magazine: "2012: The Great Scare"
Phys.org: "Mayan People Demand End to Doomsday Myth"
Houston Museum of Natural Science: "Maya 2012: Prophecy Becomes History"

You may participate in this FORUM (click here to join):  https://plus.google.com/events/ci7ak9p657rj34um819vadrm8jg

Source: http://www.nasa.gov

terça-feira, 27 de novembro de 2012

Former Sackville School scientist chosen for Christmas trip to Antarctica

A METEOROLOGIST has been guaranteed a white Christmas after she was accepted to participate in a science expedition in Antarctica.

Former Sackville School student Dr Katherine Joy will fly to the southern-most continent on Earth for the second successive year where she will hunt for meteorites that have crashed onto its frozen surface.

The mission, which has run since 1976, is funded by the US National Science Foundation and the Solar System Exploration division of NASA, and its findings will be submitted to the space agency to be studied.

Dr Joy said: "There are meteorites all over the world but as there is no rain in Antarctica they cannot be washed away, nor can their structures change. They are also a lot easier to find because they are black in the white snow.

"The most exciting discoveries are the meteorites from the Moon and Mars; they are the rarest that we find. Using snow mobiles, we go to different sites, or we go on foot to search through rocks.

"Depending on the weather we should spend eight hours a day out hunting for the meteorites and because we will be there during Antarctica's summer it will be light all the time.

"Our findings, which can vary from day to day, will then be stored and taken to NASA in Houston and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington to be analysed. We'll be studying to find out the usual things like the age, origin and how planets may have been formed. Meteorites can also give us an insight into planetary volcanoes."

Dr Joy will spend a total of two months in Antarctica with a team of between eight and twelve international planetary scientists and will also celebrate the New Year on the continent.

In December she flies to Christchurch, New Zealand, where the team will pick up some special clothing to combat the cold before flying in a ski-equipped plane to McMurdo Station, the largest base on Antarctica.

The meteorologist will return to Manchester University, where she works as a researcher, at the end of January while other scientists compile the expedition's findings.

She said: "I will spend a total of six weeks out camping with the team, which is more luxurious than it sounds, certainly more so than Scott and Shackleton experienced.

"We have power and food supplies.

"One of the positives is that I get to eat a lot of chocolate as we burn so many calories throughout the day.

"The team will spend Christmas Day exchanging presents with each other and last time I was on the trip I spent New Year's Eve watching a midnight sun, which was one the best memories I have."

To follow the expedition visit the team's blog

Source: http://www.thisissussex.co.uk

sábado, 24 de novembro de 2012

Study Suggests Earth, Mars Share Primordial Water Source, Chondritic Meteorites

In their earliest eras, the Earth, Mars and the solar system's other rocky planets drew water from the same source, chondritic meteorites -- not usually credited comets, suggest recent studies of two primitive space rocks of Martian origin.

The findings also suggest the Earth and Mars evolved quite differently, supporting wider evidence of a significant surface water presence in the distant Martian past that disappeared over time along with a more substantial atmosphere.

NASA's closely watched Curiosity rover has been at work on similar "habitability" questions on the red planet since its much heralded landing at the base of Mount Sharp in Gale Crater
nearly four months ago (Aug. 6).

On Earth, researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, NASA's Johnson Space Center, the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the Carnegie Institution for Science drew their conclusions from the 79 gram Larkman Nunatak 06319 meteorite, which was recovered from Antartica in 2006, and the 82 gram Yamato 980459 Martian rock found in Antarctica in 1998, two of 62 rocks listed in NASA's Martian Meteorite Compendium.

Their findings are set for publication in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters of Dec.1, as "Origin of water and mantlecrust interactions on Mars inferred from hydrogen isotopes and
volatile element abundances of olivine-hosted melt inclusions of primitive shergottites."

The two volcanic rocks differ in the richness of their elemental composition, affording telltale comparisons between their ratios of elemental hydrogen and deuterium, the isotope of hydrogen with a neutron added to the nucleus.

"These meteorites contain trapped basaltic liquids, not unlike the basalts that erupt on Hawaii," John Jones, an experimental petrologist from NASA/Johnson, a study co-author and a member of the Curiosity science team, explained in a statement. "They are pristine samples that have sampled various Martian volatile element environments."

Yamato 980459's H/D ratio was Earth-like, suggesting a similar primordial origin for Martian water.

But the amount of water trapped in Yamato's crystalline structures was quite dry, 15 to 47 parts per million. Yamato, the "depleted" meteorite, made its way from the Martian mantle to the crust little altered before it was blasted away on a trajectory that would bring it to Earth, the five member research team led by Tomohiro Usui, of the Tokyo Institute of Technology and a former NASA/ LPI postdoctoral fellow, surmises.

Lar 03619, the "enriched" meteorite, exhibited 10 times as much trapped water and an H/D ratio that suggested interactions with a surface reservoir in the Martian crust as well as the atmosphere, according to researchers.

The sculpted channel features in the ancient terrain of the Martian southern hemisphere suggest as much, they note in a collection of pre-publication announcements from the four study institutions.

Source: www.aviationweek.com

sexta-feira, 16 de novembro de 2012

Rare, gem-studded meteorites were born in asteroid crashes

Solar system once may have been swarming with these tiny magnetic space rocks

Rare, gem-studded meteorites that resemble stained-glass windows when backlit may have come from magnetic asteroids that splintered apart in ancient collisions, scientists say.
The solar system once may have been full of swarms of these tiny magnetic asteroids, investigators add.
The space rocks known as pallasites, first discovered in 1794, are very rare, with only about 50 known. These meteorites are mixtures of iron-nickel metal and translucent, gem-quality crystals of the green mineral olivine.
"How you get a mixture of metal and these gem-like crystals has been a longstanding mystery," lead study author John Tarduno, a geophysicist at the University of Rochester in New York, told Space.com. "Because of the density differences of these materials, you'd normally think they'd separate into two different groups." [7 Strangest Asteroids Ever]
Chemical analyses have suggested the pallasites came from at least three different asteroids.
The researchers speculated that any magnetized material within these meteorites might shed light on their formation, since asteroids would possess magnetic fields only under certain special circumstances.
Magnetic meteorite mystery
The researchers looked at metal specks encapsulated within olivine crystals in two pallasites. These crystals are far better at recording past magnetic conditions than the surrounding metal is.

The investigators used a laser to heat the metal grains past their individual Curie temperatures — the point at which a metal loses its magnetization. The grains were then cooled in the presence of a magnetic field in order to become re-magnetized. By monitoring the grains using a highly sensitive measuring instrument called a SQUID ("superconducting quantum interference device"),  the research team was able to calculate the strength of the magnetic field that these metal particles once possessed.
The scientists found these metal specks were once strongly magnetized. This suggests the meteorites came from asteroids that were themselves once strongly magnetic, perhaps 4.2 billion to 4.4 billion years ago.

Earth's magnetic field is created by its dynamo, the churning in its molten metal core. Since asteroids are relatively small, they would have cooled quickly and no longer possess molten cores or magnetic dynamos. However, recent analyses suggest that Vesta, the second-largest asteroid in the solar system, once possessed a magnetic dynamo.
Ancient asteroid crashes
Past research had suggested that pallasites originate in the boundary layer between an asteroid's metallic core and rocky mantle, arising from the mixing of material one might find there. However, this would not explain the magnetization — if the pallasites formed this way, they would not have cooled sufficiently to become permanently magnetized before any dynamo in the asteroid decayed.
Instead, the research team's computer models suggested these magnetic pallasites formed when asteroids collided with much larger asteroids, protoplanet-sized bodies about 250 miles (400 kilometers) wide. The impact would have injected a liquid mix of iron and nickel from the cores of the smaller asteroids into the larger ones, explaining the jumble of materials seen within the meteorites. The pallasites would have formed while the dynamos of these protoplanets was still active.

"If pallasites really are made of metal from one object and minerals from another, then there might be chemical 'fingerprints' we can look for to prove this hypothesis," study author Francis Nimmo, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told Space.com. "Another critical measurement to make is to get the ages of the minerals. Our models predict particular age ranges for these minerals, which can be tested against age measurements."
Tarduno noted the meteorites they analyzed represent only one of the parent asteroids of pallasites. "We'd like to sample some of the others," he said. "The techniques we've used here can be applied to meteorites of other small bodies as well."
Past research suggests thousands of protoplanets at least 60 miles (100 km) wide once dwelt within the solar system. The new findings suggest many of these might have been magnetic.
"The more small bodies we study, the more dynamos we find," Nimmo said. "The problem is that we don't understand what is driving those dynamos. Did they operate like the Earth's dynamo, or are they driven another way — for example, by their iron cores sloshing around after a giant impact?"

Source: msnbc.msn.com

segunda-feira, 12 de novembro de 2012

Famous Mars Meteorite's 'Fossils': What Arctic Rocks Can Tell Us

ExoMars PanCam deployed on Commanche Spur analogue carbonates in lava breccia at Sverrefjell volcano on AMASE 2011. Left: Arnold Bauer, Joanneum Research, Austria; Right: Nicole Schmitz, German Aerospace Center (DLR).
CREDIT: Kjell Ove Storvik/AMASE 

In 1996, a research group led by Dave McKay of NASA’s Johnson Space Center claimed to have found evidence of fossilized life in a Mars meteorite known as Allan Hills 84001.

Not only did the shapes look like bacteria, but a form of magnetite (iron oxide) was found in the meteorite that, on Earth, is produced within the bodies of certain bacteria. The study also found tiny carbonate globules in the meteorite, which the scientists said were likely formed by living organisms in the presence of liquid water.

Since their surprising announcement, other scientists have closely examined the Allan Hills meteorite and concluded the microscopic shapes aren’t necessarily associated with life, and the different features in the meteorite all could have formed by non-biological processes.

Scientists studying the rocks of the arctic archipelago of Svalbard later found carbonate globule structures like those in the Allan Hills meteorite. Rather than being formed by life, the Svalbard structures formed when the Sverrefjell volcano erupted about a million years ago, forcing magma up through an overlying glacier. [5 Bold Claims of Alien Life]

A group at the Carnegie Institution of Washington used a Ramen spectrometer to compare abiotic Svalbard carbonate globules with those found in ALH 84001, and found a high degree of similarity.

Hans Amundsen runs the Mars analogue project AMASE (Arctic Mars Analogue Svalbard Expedition) and has been visiting Svalbard  every summer for the last decade to investigate the many ways it resembles Mars. Astrobiology Magazine editor Leslie Mullen recently sat down with him at the Third Conference on Terrestrial Mars Analogues in Marrakech, Morocco, to discuss what the Svalbard rocks tell us about the still-controversial Mars meteorite.

Q: Could you tell me about the rocks in Svalbard that are analogous with the ALH 84001 Mars meteorite?

Hans Amundsen: They have the same strange carbonate minerals as the Allan Hills meteorite.

Q: The same structures that were previously thought to be fossilized life?

Amundsen: Well, yes, McKay speculated that these spheres were some sort of indication of a bio-pattern or bio-shape. I don’t know anyone who still believes that. But the shapes we see in the Svalbard rocks are identical to the ones in the Allan Hills meteorite.

Q: Identical in shape, and chemically?

Amundsen: Both.

Q: I was at a meeting a few years ago where they were still debating whether the ALH 84001 features were biological.  One line of evidence they used to argue for life were the magnetic crystals they found in the meteorite.

Amundsen: Ok, yeah. The Allan Hills carbonates contain a particular type of iron oxide of magnetite with crystal morphologies that apparently are similar to what you find in microbes with these things. Some microbes use magnetite as a compass needle to navigate in the Earth’s magnetic field, so it knows when it’s swimming up and when it’s swimming down. But to my knowledge, those morphologies are not unique to bugs.

Q: Do you find them in rocks generally?

Amundsen: Not generally, but you find magnetites of all sorts of morphologies. I guess the basic point is that the McKay group had a set of observations that could be interpreted as biogenic in origin, but if you do your homework there are lots of different ways of interpreting those features. Like those carbonate spheres. If you deposit carbonate in still-standing water, it will form spheres. [7 Biggest Mysteries of Mars]

Q: In any environment?

Amundsen: It’s simply because the carbonate building blocks, they sort of migrate randomly in the liquid, and then suddenly one sticks. And once one has made a nucleus, the others will form on it and it will grow —it receives building blocks from around it and it just grows.

You know the gem called malachite? Malachite is an example of a very similar texture, where you have these cauliflower bulbous things. Malachite forms in the same way, in water with malachite building blocks, obviously, and it just nucleates and it forms a cauliflower accumulation, like the carbonates in the Allan Hills meteorite. Quite a few carbonates elsewhere form like that, from many different types of fluids.

Q: So could you describe the soils you were studying and how they formed?

Amundsen: They’re not really soils; it’s ice in rocks. In Svalbard, there were some volcanoes that erupted through a thick ice layer; it was maybe up to a kilometer thick. During that time it was extremely cold up there, more like Antarctica. So the volcanoes melted the ice and they became soaking wet.

At some stage you turn the heat off, the volcanic activity stops. And because it was still extremely cold, the wet volcanoes froze. By that time the glacial melt water that had been sitting in basalt acquired some of the magnesium and calcium from the basalt, and when it froze it had to get rid of its CO2 and calcium and magnesium and it made carbonates.

So it’s very similar to what happens with evaporites — you just keep removing water until your remaining fluid becomes so concentrated with whatever is left over that it starts to form minerals. And evaporation and freezing do pretty much the same thing — you simply remove H2O as vapor or ice.

Q: Was your study implying that Mars was never warm?

Amundsen: It doesn’t show that Mars was never warm, but it certainly indicates that you can make minerals like in the Allan Hills meteorite under low temperature conditions, possibly during freezing or close to zero degrees [Celsius]. A study published last year by a CalTech group found that the Allan Hills carbonates formed at about 20 degrees Celsius.

Q: Meaning they formed in that temperature.

Amundsen: Yeah. The Svalbard ones, we don’t know. But the oxygen isotopes suggests it was very cold.  But we can’t tell if it was zero or minus 30, because we don’t know the exact composition of the waters.

If you have the water and the carbonate that formed, you can estimate the temperature. But we only have the carbonate; the water is gone. But the only other carbonates on Earth that look similar to the Svalbard ones have formed during freezing of water in caves.

There’s examples from Arctic Canada and from Poland where there are these very unusual, very light oxygen isotopes. And the whole setting of the Svalbard volcanoes — they probably erupted under extremely cold climatic conditions, melted the ice and then froze again. So you can’t use the Allan Hills carbonates to argue for anything warm. But it was certainly wet. [Photos: The Search for Water on Mars]

Q: Volcanoes are warm, but I guess they are hot spots in a cold place.

Amundsen: Yeah, there’s been volcanism on Mars throughout its history, of course. But as a surface condition, you get essentially the same carbonates and sulfates forming under permafrost conditions as you do under tropical conditions. They don’t look different.

Q: And there’s nothing about the heat caused by being blasted off the surface that had anything to do with that?

Amundsen: No, I think there could be. The Allan Hills meteorite likely witnessed several blasts nearby before it was kicked out itself. So you could have had warm events triggered by impacts.

So you warm the top layer of the crust, and what maybe was permafrost then melted and froze back again. And we don’t know how deep the Alan Hills meteorite originally came from. Most people are thinking of it as sitting on the surface, but it could have been hundreds of meters subsurface, and was excavated by the impact.

You know from the shocked minerals from the Allan Hills meteorite that there were impacts going on. The age of the Hills meteorite was at a time when there were lots of impacts. But you can’t preclude that there was lukewarm water drizzling down from above.

Q: It’s all very interesting how the questions on the meteorite structures still aren’t completely settled.

Amundsen: In science there’s always a debate going on, but with the search for life on Mars I think it’s important to be conservative. If you can explain your observations with purely physical, abiotic processes, then you can’t use it to argue that you have found life outside Earth.

This story was provided by Astrobiology Magazine, a web-based publication sponsored by the NASA astrobiology program.

View the video:

Fonte: Space.com

quarta-feira, 7 de novembro de 2012

Claim of stolen meteorite worth $12 million goes to Yukon Appeal Court

 A decade-long court fight over allegations of a stolen meteorite that was growing a life form is now in the hands of the Yukon Court of Appeal.

Daniel Sabo is suing the federal government, staff members with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), and an RCMP officer claiming the meteorite he found in 1986 was replaced with a replica and he wants $12 million.

Scientists with the GSC concluded the growth on the space rock could be a natural result of oxidation of minerals, a salt-type crystal or a type of lichen.

The Yukon Supreme Court rejected Sabo's claim in a decision last year.

The case he presented to the court in 2010 claimed RCMP Corporal Dan Parlee failed to properly investigate, and that forensics expert Bill Schneck, who was hired by Sabo’s former lawyer, tampered with the rock without his permission.

Sabo, who represented himself before the appeal court panel on Monday, used photos showing the rock before and after it was returned to him.

He claimed a date stamp on one photo shows the GSC sliced into the rock before it had his permission to do so. He also said the agency obtained his permission only “under duress”.

Sabo said he found the rock while working on his mining claim near Mayo, Yukon.

An assaying company in B.C. agreed it was likely a meteorite, though the International Meteorite Society is the only group that can make such a certification

In 1998, Sabo noticed a green formation on the meteorite and tests showed the growth could be some kind of life form.

The rock was sent to the GSC in Ottawa to be analyzed and later polished with the small cut taken off for more detailed study.

Sabo has continually argued that the GSC kept his rock, replacing it with a replica.

While Sabo has estimated the rock’s value at $12.1 million, Alexander Benitah, who represents the Attorney General of Canada in the case, pointed to estimates that had was worth between $1,000 and $2,500 based on the evidence of the GSC.

Benitah also said Sabo’s valuation is based solely on the highest-priced meteorite found on the Internet.

He said there is simply no evidence to support Sabo’s claim and asked that the appeal be dismissed.

Justices Harvey Groberman, Christopher Hinkson and David Harris have reserved their decision on the matter.

Fonte: Whitehorse Star

quinta-feira, 1 de novembro de 2012

New 300 kilo meteorite found in POLAND

Polish geologists have unearthed the largest meteorite ever found in Eastern Europe and are hoping the rare find will provide fresh clues about the composition of the Earth's inner core, they said on Wednesday.

"We know the Earth's core is composed of iron, but we can't study it. Here we have a guest from outer space which is similar in structure and we can easily examine it," Professor Andrzej Muszynski told reporters in Poznan, western Poland, where the find was made public Wednesday.

"This can broaden our knowledge about the origins of the universe," the geologist said, quoted by the Polish PAP news agency.

Two meteorite hunters found the 300-kilogram cone-shaped hunk of iron, which measures two metres in diameter, late last month two metres underground at the Morasko Meteorite Reserve just north of Poznan.

They were using a device to detect electromagnetic anomalies in the earth's surface.

"Until now, it's the largest find of its kind in this part of Europe," said Professor Wojciech Stankowski.

Fellow geologists at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan who are studying it believe the meteor crash-landed 5000 years ago and is composed mostly of iron with traces of nickel.

"It was like a gold rush, we became very excited. We didn't even bother to eat - we just kept on digging," Muszynski said of its hasty excavation.

Located just north of Poznan, the Morasko Meteorite Reserve boasts seven craters. The largest is nearly 100 metres in diameter and 11 metres deep. Scientists believe the site was formed 5000 years ago by meteors crashing into the Earth.

So far the Morasko reserve, marked by a shallow crater, has given up close to 1500 kilograms of smaller meteorites. Scientists now plan to broaden their hunt for meteorites in the region.

Fonte: http://technology.iafrica.com

quarta-feira, 31 de outubro de 2012

Rock Hunters Still Canvassing Northern California For Meteorites

NOVATO (CBS13) – A light show hard to forget brought out rock hunters who are still canvassing Northern California days after the asteroid came crashing down.

There are all kinds of rocks in parking lots and gravel in fields so how do they know what a meteorite is? Well, they say to look for something that stands out.

It may look like a tar ball to us earthlings, but according to meteorite hunter Bob Verish, it’s a cosmic gem.

“It shows a history of having had some catastrophic collision in the asteroid belt,” he said.

It’s a rock so foreign, so ancient, he says it was floating around Jupiter before the Earth ever formed.

Two weeks ago, a big, bright flash danced across the sky, sending a glow show across half the state.

“We don’t get many falls like this in California,” he said. As impressive as it was when it crashed, that’s also why it’s so difficult to find its 4.5-billion-year-old parts.

“It came in at a lower angle. It spread out the stone,” he said.

Only four pieces have been found in Novato and they’re worth $100 per gram. Bob’s weighs in at about 100, making it a $10,000 rock.

It’s a true treasure for a man who once sent NASA probes to outer space. Now he’s probing this planet for galactic goods.

If it jumps to his magnet, he says it’s likely out of this world. Bob’s now convinced there are larger pieces to this puzzle in Novato.

“We try not to think about the fact that it’s worse than a needle in a haystack,” he said.

After searching several square miles, he’s convinced larger rocks are lurking.

The search seems difficult and endless. They also have to speed it up because every time it rains, they lose some evidence and so people like bob are racing against the clock. There’s another storm on the way.

Fonte: http://sacramento.cbslocal.com

domingo, 28 de outubro de 2012

Nazi buddha from space might be fake

Statue said to have been looted by Nazis may well be from space but expert says it was probably made in the 20th century.

The narrative was, perhaps, just a little too good to be true. When news broke last month of the so-called "buddha from space" - a swastika-emblazoned statue, apparently 1000 years old, that had been carved out of a meteorite and looted by a Nazi ethnologist - the world was enthralled.
There were only, it turns out, a few slight catches. According to two experts who have since given their verdict on the mysterious Iron Man, it may have been a European counterfeit; it was probably made at some point in the 20th century; and it may well not have been looted by the Nazis. The bit about the meteorite, though, still stands.

According to Buddhism specialist Achim Bayer, the statue bears 13 features that are easily identifiable by experts as "pseudo-Tibetan" - and which sit uneasily with speculation by researchers last month that it was probably made in the 11th-century pre-Buddhist Bon culture.

These include the 24cm-high statue's shoes, trousers and hand positioning, as well as the fact that the buddha has a full beard rather than the "rather thin" facial hair usually given to a deity in Tibetan and Mongolian art. In his report, Bayer says he believes the statue to be a European counterfeit made sometime between 1910 and 1970.

"I would like to briefly address readers from outside our field and clarify that there is not any controversy among experts about the authenticity of the statue, the 'lama wearing trousers', as I would like to call it," writes the University of Seoul academic. "Up to date, no acknowledged authority in the field of Tibetan or Mongolian art has publicly deemed the statue authentic and the issue has to be considered uncontroversial."
The statue's Asian provenance is not the only aspect of the story to have been questioned. In September, the man leading a team of German and Austrian researchers, University of Stuttgart geologist Elmar Buchner, said its previous owner had claimed it had been brought to Europe in the late 1930s by Ernst Schafer, a Nazi ethnologist who led an SS expedition to Tibet.

But German historian Isrun Engelhardt, who has studied Schafer's trip to Tibet in depth, has cast doubt on this suggestion, questioning the statue's absence on the long list of items brought back. "There is an extremely precise list of the purchased objects, including date, place and value," she told Spiegel.

Buchner says he had no reason to doubt the account of the previous owner, and stresses that his team was only looking into what the statue was made of - a rare form of iron with a high content of nickel - not where it had come from. While they felt able to say the material most likely came from the Chinga meteorite, which crashed to earth 15,000 years ago, the researchers admitted that "the ethnological and art historical details - as well as the time of sculpturing, currently remain speculative".

Moreover, Buchner's statements about the origins were qualified. He told the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science: "If we are right that it was made in the Bon culture in the 11th century, it is absolutely priceless and absolutely unique worldwide."

Fonte: SMH.com.au

terça-feira, 23 de outubro de 2012

Meteorite Strikes Home Of California Pastor

A spectacular fireball was spotted in the skies over California last week, preceding the weekend’s Orionid meteor shower that took place this past weekend. Now a piece of that meteorite has been found after it struck the roof of a California pastor’s home.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a gray, 2-inch rock that hit the Novato home of Kent and Lisa Webber. Lisa Webber found the rock, and remembered hearing a noise the night of the fireball. She also found a dent on her roof where the 2.2 ounce space rock struck.

A Presbyterian pastor, Kent Webber didn’t discount the possible cosmic implications of his home being struck by an object from the heavens, but he didn’t play it up either.

“It’s wonderful and very interesting to think this might be billions of years old,” Rev. Webber told PaloAltoPatch. “Maybe God’s trying to get our attention. I’m not sure what God is trying to say, and I’m not sure how to interpret it.”

Lisa Webber initially thought the noise she heard was made by an animal, but later after seeing a news report on the meteor’s path, she looked closer. Lisa found a small rock and brought it inside. Her college-aged son remembered a television program that claimed meteorites were magnetic, and after testing that theory (it was), she contacted SETI.

Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute in Mountain View confirmed the find as authentic.

“It’s just science — and it’s cool,” Lisa Webber said. “It’s wonderful. It’s like the heavens coming down, and history and this thing probably came from an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter — I mean, how cool is that?”

This past week the Earth passed through a stretch of space with debris from Haley’s comet, leading to the Orionid meteor shower that peaked between Saturday and Sunday.

Do you think there is any cosmic significance to a meteorite landing on a pastor’s roof in California?

Fonte:  inquisitr.com

sábado, 20 de outubro de 2012

Devon 'meteorite' brings memories of close encounter

Arthur Pettifor thought a rock had been thrown into his garden before he discovered it was a meteorite

Police in Devon and Cornwall have been inundated with calls after what is thought to have been the sonic boom from a meteorite falling to earth.

The chances of finding any remains are very slim say experts, but in 1991 one pensioner came a bit too close to comfort to a falling meteorite.

Pensioner Arthur Pettifor was weeding his onions in his Cambridgeshire garden when he heard a loud crash.

BBC Devon reporter Sophie Pierce, who was a cub reporter in Cambridgeshire at the time, said: "He described how he saw the conifer tree in his garden shaking vigorously.

"He went to investigate and found a piece of warm rock - obviously warm because it had just come from outer space - at the bottom of the tree and it was later confirmed to be a meteorite."

Mr Pettifor, who has since died, had found what is now known as the Glatton Meteorite, the last verified meteorite landing in the UK.

For a few months, Mr Pettifor kept the meteorite wrapped in cling film and showed it at the village fete for inspection by local people.

The meteorite, thought to be about 4.7bn years old, was later sold to the Natural History Museum, which verified its historical position among UK meteorite landings, for £250.

The museum classified it as an L6 chondrite, a stony meteorite which is the most common group, the other two being iron and stony-iron.

If it had been a rarer type of meteorite, say from Mars, it could have fetched tens of thousands of pounds.

Discoveries of meteorites are extremely rare and are mostly made by experts.

Mark Ford, chairman of the British and Irish Meteorite Society (BIMS), said: "People might think if they heard the meteorite over Devon and Cornwall they could find it in a field, but the chances are that it went into the Atlantic.

"It would have been several miles up and their trajectories and speed are such that they land hundreds of miles away from where they are heard or seen."

He said that the meteorite could have come from the tail end of Halley's comet, a cloud of meteors called the Orionids which can be seen in the night sky every October.

On a clear night one can see about 25 meteors an hour, he said.

Glatton is still enjoying being the site of the last known meteorite landing.

This year the meteorite went back to the village for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations when the village held a special exhibition with the help of the Natural History Museum and the BIMS.

Fonte: BBC NEWS, England

Tenn. family used meteorite as doorstop for years

Eastern Kentucky University has acquired a 33-pound meteorite from an eastern Tennessee family that used the space rock as a doorstop and flower bed ornament over the years.
The meteorite was initially found in a cow pasture near Tazewell, Tenn., in the 1930s by Tilmon Brooks, the late grandfather of Donna Lewis, a school secretary in Pineville, Ky.
Tests at the University of Tennessee concluded that the meteorite likely came from a known meteorite strike that had first turned up evidence in Tazewell in 1853.
EKU's Department of Physics and Astronomy Chairman, Jerry Cook, says the meteorite will be at the Kentucky Academy of Science annual conference on campus Friday and Saturday. Cook said the meteorite, which the university purchased from the Lewises, will be used for educational and outreach purposes, a fact that pleases the former owners most of all.
"I saw how excited kids at our school got when they saw it," said Donna Lewis, who works for Pineville Independent Schools. "It's good to know that Eastern will keep it in one piece and students will be able to study it."
Cook does not believe the Tazewell meteorite is related to the large meteor strike that carved a four-mile-wide crater where nearby Middlesboro, Ky., now sits. Cook believes the meteorite to be the second largest (known) meteorite from the Tazewell strike. The first, he said, weighed approximately 100 pounds.
"We don't want to lock it up somewhere," Cook said. "We want kids to be able to touch it, lift it, and understand what it is. Part of our job is to get kids interested in science, and this . will stir their curiosity."

Fonte: foxnews.com

Artisanal knife maker in Argentina makes a foot long knife out of a meteorite

segunda-feira, 15 de outubro de 2012

'Largest meteorite auction' ever brings in more than $1 million

Meteorites from Mars and the biggest piece of the moon ever offered for sale went on the block on Sunday in New York in what organizers billed as history's largest meteorite auction, which brought in over $1 million.
More than 125 meteorites were offered in the private sale, from gray pockmarked lumps of iron to highly polished slabs glittering with extraterrestrial gems. But many of the big-ticket items, estimated to sell for $50,000 or more, did not find buyers.

The most expensive items on offer were four pounds (1.8 kg) of moon rock that were once embedded on the dark side of the moon before an asteroid sent them hurling into space. They sold for $330,000 after the auction's end. The rocks went for $10,000 less than the low-end, pre-sale estimate, organizers said.

The most hotly contested lot was a slice of the Seymchan meteorite, pieces of which were found in Siberia in the 1960s. The 9-inch-tall (23-cm-tall) slice, embedded with olivine crystals, went for $43,750, about 12 times its estimated sale price.

Items that failed to sell included a large fragment of the Tissint meteorite of Martian origin that fell in Morocco last year, and an iron meteorite resembling a howling face that was found in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. It was valued at $175,000 to $225,000.

Meteorites are priced for their size, rarity, beauty and provenance. Some items sold for as little as a few hundred dollars.

"We wanted to make certain there's something for everyone. We want to be egalitarian when we're offering outer space," said Darryl Pitt, the meteorite consultant for Heritage Auctions, which conducted the sale.

Buyers are typically willing to pay more for bits of rock or iron known to have originated on the moon or Mars. Lunar meteorites are particularly rare, he said, with only about 135 pounds (61.2 kg) of the rock known to exist on Earth.

"It is the oldest material mankind can touch, the raw ingredients of the planets," Pitt said in describing the appeal of collecting meteorites.

One buyer, who asked not to be named, spent tens of thousands of dollars in several successful bids, including one for a Martian meteorite. He said he was taking instructions from a copy of the auction catalog heavily annotated by his meteorite-loving wife.

While one iron meteorite weighed in at nearly 1,600 pounds (725 kg), several other lots featured flecks of rock about the size of a nickel.

A piece of the so-called Peekskill meteorite, which was caught on camera 20 years ago burning through the sky before smacking into a Chevy Malibu in New York, sold for $16,250.

One buyer paid $1,375 for a piece of stone involved in the only documented fatality caused by a meteorite when it crashed down in 1972.

"It was a cow," auctioneer Ed Beardsley said. "It was pulverized. It was quick."

Fonte: msnbc.msn.com

sábado, 13 de outubro de 2012

Meteorite Shows Vesta Once Had Active Dynamo

Scientists have determined that the second-most-massive asteroid in the solar system may have once had an active dynamo.

A meteorite found in Antarctica believed to be from Vesta holds clues to the asteroid once harboring a molten, swirling mass of conducting fluid generating a magnetic field, or dynamo.

Scientists suspect that the composition of asteroids offer information about the diversity of planetary bodies within the early solar system.

“We’re filling in the story of basically what happened during those first few million years of the solar system, when an entire solar system was dominated by objects like this,” Roger Fu, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), and the study’s first author, said in a press release. “These bodies are really like miniature planets.”

Benjamin Weiss, an associate professor of planetary sciences in EAPS, said that with this information, Vesta could become the smallest known planetary object to have generated a dynamo.

The team set out first to determine the magnetization and the age of a meteorite sample, and then to check that its magnetic field was due to an early dynamo.

They obtained a meteorite sample from Vesta that was originally discovered in Antarctica back in 1981. The sample retains magnetic properties that scientists have been studying for years.

The team first looked at the rock’s tiny crystals, and measured the alignment of these minerals, or the rock’s magnetic “moment.” The researchers demagnetized the rock until they found the magnetization they believed was the oldest remnant of a magnetic field. Next, they determined the age of the rock by analyzing the meteorite for evidence of argon, which is produced from the natural decay of potassium.

Scientists can heat the rock, and measure the amount of argon-40 released in order to try and determine its age. The more released, the older the rock is. This technique allowed scientists to determine that the Vesta meteorite is 3.7 billion years old.

The team believes that an early dynamo likely magnetized the surface of Vesta within the first 100 million years of the asteroid’s history. When the meteorite formed 3.7 billion years ago, it would have become magnetized due to exposure to fields emanating from the surrounding crust.

Evidence for a dynamo on Vesta gives weight to the theory that other small bodies in the solar system may have also harbored similar dynamos.

“The moon’s ancient dynamo is given added credibility by this measurement,” Christopher Russell, a professor of geophysics and space physics at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), said in a press release. “Another small body, Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, today appears to have an active dynamo in its core. This measurement makes that interpretation more credible as well.”

Fu said Vesta is interesting because it is one of the building blocks that eventually formed the planets. He said this is a remnant that is still preserved because it didn’t end up forming a planet.

“It’s only 500 kilometers (310 miles) across, but it actually had many of the same global processes that the Earth has,” Fu said in the release.

The researchers published their study in the journal Science.

Fonte: redOrbit (http://s.tt/1pVNi)

sexta-feira, 12 de outubro de 2012

The man in the iron meteorite: Remarkable space rock that looks almost human goes up for auction

It was found in 1992 by tribesmen in Namibia's Kalahari with the aid of a metal detector

At first look it appears as though this artefact was part of some statue from roman times.
But in fact it was not the work of some ancient artist - rather it came from outer space.
It is an iron meteorite, an an incredibly rare one at that.
The matchless specimen was found in 1992 by indigenous tribesmen in Namibia's Kalahari with the aid of a metal detector.

The eyes have it: The two holes in the meteorite make it extremely rare - and give it the appearance of an owl

Part of the The Macovich Collection in New York City, it is going up for sale on Sunday at the Natural History Signature Meteorite Auction. It is estimated to fetch between £85,000 and £100,000.
The auction website said: 'It is extremely rare for meteorites to have naturally formed holes, and rarer still when the holes are positioned in the matrix in such a way as to yield a magnificent aesthetic specimen-let alone the highly zoomorphic example seen here.
'Defined by the two adjacent hollows that perforate its mass and separated by perfectly sculpted ridges, there is an exquisite asymmetric balance between this meteorite's two sides: the outward flanging of one side is offset by the larger hollow and more prominent opposing crest.'
Experts say that the moment of extraction from beneath the Earth's surface was crucial to its unique form.
If removed several hundred years earlier, it would not have been perfectly zoomorphic.
If removed several hundred years later, the holes would be far too large and outsized.

Cash landing: The iron meteorite was found in 1992 by indigenous tribesmen in the Kalahari with the aid of a metal detector (file picture)

Fonte: dailymail.co.uk

quarta-feira, 10 de outubro de 2012

New York City Stages Largest Meteorite Auction Ever

On Sunday, some 125 extraterrestrial rocks will be auctioned off. Lizzie Crocker talks to a meteorite consultant about the increasing value of objets d’art from outer space.

Twenty-five years after E.T. came home, Steven Spielberg still has the space bug: the filmmaker is among a new wave of nonscientists collecting extraterrestrial rocks.

This coming Sunday in New York City, Heritage Auctions will host the largest meteorite auction in the world, offering some 125 select fragments of Mars, the moon, and asteroids—many of which have been housed in the world’s finest natural history museums. A four-pound moon rock estimated at $340,000 is among the biggest stars of the event, both in terms of monetary value and size (it’s the largest lunar specimen ever to be auctioned). Other meteorites in the auction with a more aesthetic appeal are considered extraterrestrial objets d’art. In recent years, they’ve been hailed by the likes of Damien Hirst.

“The meteorite is very much an emerging collectible,” said Darryl Pitt, meteorite consultant to Heritage Auctions, who contributed a number of pieces from his private collection. “These specimens are incredibly evocative natural forms, but they’ve only recently become appealing to people who are interested in visual arts.”

Pitt, who has a background in the visual arts himself, began cherry-picking unique-looking meteorites from Africa in the late 1980s, which led to his involvement in meteorite commerce. “No one else was interested in them at the time, including museums, because they just wanted the bigger, more monumental pieces,” Pitt said. So he pocketed sculptural meteorites and sold the less visually arresting ones to museums and other private collectors.
One of the more unusually-shaped pieces for sale in Sunday’s auction is the “Gibeon Mask,” an iron meteorite discovered by tribesmen in Namibia in 1992. “So many variables came together to create this singular sculptural form,” said Pitt, adding that the bulk of its formation occurred during thousands of years of exposure to the elements in the Kalahari Desert. “It’s considered the best meteorite of its kind.”

As with most collectibles, 
a back story can double a meteorite’s value.

Indeed, most meteorites look like prosaic rocks, but that doesn’t detract from their value. They’re still among the rarest substances on Earth. According to Pitt, every meteorite known to exist would collectively weigh less than the world’s annual output of gold. A majority of these meteorites comes from collisions in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Bits of Mars and the moon are rarer, though they too were launched into the Earth’s orbit by asteroid collisions.

As with most collectibles, a backstory can double a meteorite’s value. To wit: meteorites that were witnessed rocketing toward Earth in the form of fireballs are generally worth more than those discovered after they hit the ground. One of the most famous meteorites is the Peekskill, which punctured Earth’s atmosphere exactly 20 years ago. Weighing in at approximately 27 pounds, the Peekskill was captured on film from as many as 16 different perspectives before it hit a parked car, blowing a large hole through the trunk. Both the car and the Peekskill have since been featured in museum exhibits around the world, though the rock has been picked for Sunday’s auction and valued at $4,000-$6,000.

Others in the auction have no minimal estimate. “There’s a little bit of something for everyone,” said Pitt. “But in the coming years, people are going to look back and say, ‘I can’t believe this material was made available so inexpensively in 2012.’”

Fonte:m: thedailybeast.com

quinta-feira, 4 de outubro de 2012

Touch a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite in Bradenton, Florida

Some 4,500 years ago, a 100-ton meteor came screaming in from the Asteroid Belt and tumbled toward the northern region of what is now Argentina.

It likely exploded upon slamming into the atmosphere, and the disintegrating fireball blistered a 36-square-mile tract of prehistoric plains with a dozen craters.

The first reports of its aftermath were not logged until 1576, when skeptical Spanish conquistadors investigated apocalyptic native folklore about fire raining from the sky. The trail led to a treasure trove of scattered and often massive meteorite fragments weighing up to 16 tons. The impact zone is called Campo del Cielo, and it has become a windfall for scientific research.

On Friday, one of those cosmic remnants will go on permanent display at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, and the public is invited to take a look.

Measuring 18 inches long and 10 inches tall and weighing in at 138 pounds, the extraterrestrial rock is nicknamed FeNi for its composition, mostly iron with traces of nickel. The arrival of FeNi has museum staffers jazzed.

“I like putting my hand on something that came from outer space during the earliest part of the solar system, which is made of the same material at the core of the Earth,” says astronomer Jeff Rodgers, director of the Museum's Bishop Planetarium.

“I can't go to the stars. I can't go to the planets. But I can touch something that's 4.5 billion years old. I think it's safe to say this is the oldest thing any of us will ever come in contact with.”

To generate interest, the first 500 children who visit the museum on Friday evening will receive free meteorite particles. Unlike FeNi, glazed to a fine sheen with mineral oil to prevent oxidation, the take-home samples could be mistaken for common rust fragments. These fragments, however, trace their ancient origins to a failed planetoid system between Mars and Jupiter known as the Asteroid Belt.

“Who knows what that might inspire?” says Rodgers. “Nobody ever sent me home with chunks of meteorites when I was a kid.”

FeNi, and its sister piece — a similar-sized meteorite being held for now in museum storage — is a gift from board member Jim Toomey, a Bradenton paleontologist who runs the nonprofit Toomey Foundation for Natural Sciences.

Toomey decided to bring space debris to Bradenton last year after sizing up the “public fascination” with a hands-on meteorite display at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz. “In science, it's important for people to touch and handle material” to connect with it, he says.

Toomey will not say how much he paid for FeNi and its companion, but licensed meteorite dealers sell iron-based specimens for between 50 cents and $5 a gram. Meteorites with less common elements can command between $2 and $20 a gram.

Although the odds against discovering a meteorite the size of FeNi are ridiculously high, Rodgers says Earth is bombarded by approximately 200,000 tons of natural space debris each year.

“I'd be willing to guess within Manatee County's borders, there are tons of meteoritic material,” he says. “If you see a rock that looks a little unusual, the first test is to put a magnet on it and see if it sticks — then we'd have reason to believe it might be unique.

“But most of it comes in the form of dust. In fact, 30 percent of the dust you sweep up at home is of extraterrestrial origin. Which makes cleaning your house a lot sexier.”

Far from being a publicity stunt, the FeNi display will serve as a conversation-starter for the entire museum, according to exhibitions and collections director Matthew Woodside.

“This will create a standalone exhibit in the lobby that serves as a pathway to all our other display nodes,” Woodside says. “So we'll have the oldest stuff in the solar system, a 65-year-old manatee, and everything else in between.”

Fonte: heraldtribune.com

segunda-feira, 1 de outubro de 2012

The Martian rock with a pricetag that's out of this world: Tiny lump of the red planet set to make £160,000 /200,000 Euros / 258 thousand USD

Rock is just 3.5ins long and weighs 11.5oz
Landed in the Moroccan desert last year in a meteorite shower

A small lump of the planet Mars that fell to Earth in a meteorite shower is set to sell for an astronomical £160,000.
The rock, that is just 3.5ins long and weighs 11.5ozs, formed under the surface of the red planet and was blasted from it by the impact of an asteroid millions of years ago.
After travelling through space it formed part of a meteorite shower that landed in the Moroccan desert last year.

The meteorite was named after the village of Tissint, where it came down.
Experts said the shower was the most important to have occurred on Earth in 100 years.
It was acquired by an American company that collects meteorites and earlier this year sold the bulk of it, a chunk weighing 2.5lbs, to the Natural History Museum in London.
It retained this smaller fragment which has now been made available for sale at auction.
The lump is an igneous rock formed from solidifed lava and has a glossy black fusion crust on the outside.
Jim Walker, of the US-based Heritage Auctions, said: 'This piece is part of the same meteorite that formed the largest piece from the shower to fall to Earth.

'Whether it broke up on impact or separated earlier I don’t know but it does fit into the much bigger piece, like a 3D jigsaw.
'When they occur meteorite showers often fall in the Sahara Desert and locals have learnt to pick up almost any fragment of rock that they don’t recognise.
'Pieces identified as martian have been eagerly snapped up by collectors in the past and this seems reasonably priced.
'Part of the problem is that there is obviously a shortage of material like this around but there is enough that a market has been established.
'This piece has a beautiful fusion crust on the exterior and this has given it an added value.
'Lunar and martian rocks are the pinnacle of meteorite collecting.
'But there is a very limited amount of material, most lunar mass is at NASA who are extremely loathed to release any of it to the public.'
The auction takes place in New York on October 14.

Fonte: dailymail.co.uk

sexta-feira, 28 de setembro de 2012

New comet will light up the sky

This interplanetary visitor may be the brightest comet ever.

About a year from now, Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) probably will become the brightest comet anyone alive has ever seen. How bright it could get is currently the subject of vigorous discussion among planetary scientists and everyday comet-watchers.

Two astronomers, Vitali Nevski from Vitebsk, Belarus, and Artyom Novichonok from Kondopoga, Russia, discovered the comet on images they obtained September 21. They used the 16-inch (0.4-meter) Santel reflector of the International Scientific Optical Network, whose abbreviation — ISON — is now the Comet C/2012 S1’s common name. When the two scientists found the comet, it glowed weakly at magnitude 18.8. As a comparison, it would take the light from more than 100,000 such comets to equal the faintest star visible to the naked eye from a dark site.

According to predictions, the comet will approach to within 0.012 astronomical units (1.1 million miles [1.8 million kilometers]) of the Sun at the end of November 2013. One astronomical unit (AU) equals the average distance between the Sun and Earth, about 93 million miles (149.7 million km). Then, in January 2014, the comet will approach to within 0.4 AU (37.2 million miles [59.9 million km]) of Earth.

Regarding visibility, Comet ISON — currently 6.5° due east of the 1st-magnitude star Pollux in Gemini the Twins — is now bright enough for amateur astronomers with large telescopes to image. That said, the comet itself will not show much in the way of detail for several months. By late summer 2013, observers at dark locations should be able to spot the comet through small telescopes or possibly even binoculars. And sometime in late October or early November, C/2012 S1 should cross the naked-eye visibility threshold. From there, it may reach — or even exceed — the brightness of the Full Moon.

When the comet is closest to the Sun (a moment astronomers call perihelion), it may shine a dozen times as brightly as Venus, normally the brightest “starlike” object in the sky. Unfortunately, on that date it will lie only 4.4° north of our daytime star, and the Sun’s glare may hide it from the view of casual observers.

Immediately after reaching perihelion, Comet ISON heads north. And while the comet fades as its distance from the Sun increases, it still should be as bright as Venus, but with a spectacular tail. Its position will allow observers all over Earth to see it, but those in the Northern Hemisphere will get the better views as Christmas approaches. In fact, on January 8, 2014, the comet will lie only 2° from Polaris — the North Star.

Fonte: Astronomy.com

quinta-feira, 27 de setembro de 2012

Nazi space Buddha was meteorite, includes swastika

This space Buddha, also known as 'iron man' to the researchers, is of unknown age, though the best estimates date the statue to sometime between the eighth and 10th centuries.

It sounds like a mash-up of Indiana Jones' plots, but German researchers say a heavy Buddha statue brought to Europe by the Nazis was carved from a meteorite that likely fell 10,000 years ago along the Siberia-Mongolia border.

This space Buddha, also known as "iron man" to the researchers, is of unknown age, though the best estimates date the statue to sometime between the eighth and 10th centuries. The carving depicts a man, probably a Buddhist god, perched with his legs tucked in, holding something in his left hand. On his chest is a Buddhist swastika, a symbol of luck that was later co-opted by the Nazi party of Germany.

"One can speculate whether the swastika symbol on the statue was a potential motivation to displace the 'iron man' meteorite artifact to Germany," the researchers wrote online Sept. 14 in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

Iron man adventure

The iron man first came to Germany after a 1938-1939 Tibet expedition by zoologist and ethnology Ernst Schäfer, who was sent to the region by the Nazi party to find the roots of Aryan origin. The statue then passed into the hands of a private owner. [Fallen Stars: A Gallery of Famous Meteorites]

Stuttgart University researcher Elmar Bucher and his colleagues first analyzed the statue in 2007, when the owner allowed them to take five miniscule samples of it. In 2009, the team had the opportunity to take larger samples from the inside of the statue, which is less prone to contamination by weathering or human handling than the outside where the initial samples were taken.

They found that the statue is carved from a rare class of space rocks known as ataxite meteorites. These mostly iron meteorites have a high level of nickel. The largest-ever known meteorite, the Hoba meteorite of Namibia, is an ataxite meteorite that may weigh more than 60 tons.

It came from outer space

A chemical analysis of the iron man samples revealed they are a close match for a famous scattering of space rocks from the Siberia and Mongolian border. The Chinga meteorite field holds at least 250 meteorite fragments, most relatively small, though two topping 22 pounds (10 kg) have been found there. Scientists estimate the Chinga meteorite fell 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. The field's first discovery was recorded in 1913, but the statue's existence suggests people were mining the field for artistic materials long before that, Buchner said.

The identity of the carved man is unclear, but the researchers suspect he may be the Buddhist god Vaisravana, also known as Jambhala. Vaisravana is the god of wealth or war, and he is often portrayed holding a lemon (a symbol of wealth) or moneybag in his hand. The iron man holds an unidentified object in his hand. The statue is about 9.5 inches (24 cm) tall and weighs about 23 pounds (10.6 kg).

Many cultures used meteorite iron to make daggers and even jewelry, Buchner and his colleagues wrote, and meteorite worship is common among many ancient cultures. But the Buddha carving is unique.

"The Iron Man statue is the only known illustration of a human figure to be carved into a meteorite, which means we have nothing to compare it to when assessing value," Buchner said in a statement. "Its origins alone may value it at $20,000; however, if our estimation of its age is correct and it is nearly a thousand years old it could be invaluable."

Fonte: csmonitor

domingo, 23 de setembro de 2012

Meteorites, space junk - or alien invasion?

The sight of unexplained fireballs in the night sky had some Scots wondering if this would become The Day The Earth Stood Still due to an alien encounter Photograph: Thomas Heaton/SWNS.com

SOME said it looked like a scene from the film Independence Day, others feared an aeroplane was crashing – but most simply stared at the sky in awed bewilderment at one of the most amazing astronomical displays ever seen over Scotland.

The emergency services were flooded by calls as a suspected meteorite shower lit up the skies. However, astronomers are still not sure exactly what happened late on Friday night, with some saying it might not have been meteorites but burning space junk – the disintegrating remains of satellites – falling to earth.

Concerned members of the public from Airdrie to Arbroath likened the bright lights they saw to flares, fireworks and the flaming debris from an exploded aircraft.

The lights were seen as far north as Caithness and by islanders on Skye, with sightings also reported in parts of central Scotland, including in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Other sightings were reported across parts of England and Northern Ireland, with one Twitter user describing seeing a "huge fireball" over Newquay in Cornwall.

Coastguards and police up and down the country were inundated with calls from around 11pm as people witnessed the slow-moving fireballs streak across the night sky, with some describing a loud "sonic boom" effect as they passed.

A spokesman for Forth Coastguard said: "From talking to other stations and to the RAF it's almost certainly meteorite activity. Calls came in from all over the place, thick and fast. We've had people report possible plane crashes, and others the weirdest fireworks they've ever seen. Folk just haven't known how to describe what they've seen. It's quite extraordinary."

People from Crail, Johnshaven and Arbroath had contacted them.

Clyde Coastguard said it had also received a "wee flurry" of calls reporting flares over Drummore, Airdrie and Brodick on Arran.

A spokeswoman said: "When we get it all over and at the same time then we attribute them to meteorites. There was meteorite activity forecast from September 15 to 21."

Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire tweeted that there was "no real consensus on whether last night's spectacular fireball was a space rock burning up or space junk (bit of spacecraft)".

The Met Office tweeted that it believed it had been a meteorite.

Shetland Coastguard said a report of a flare at 11.10pm at Duncansby Head near John O'Groats was thought to be part of the meteor shower. Meteorites are also known as shooting stars because when they enter the Earth's atmosphere they heat up and emit light, giving the impression of a flare.

Explosions and rumblings are often heard during meteorite falls, which can be caused by sonic booms, as well as shock waves as the meteorite disintegrates. These sounds can be heard over areas of up to several thousand square miles.

Nicola Hopkin in Newton Mearns in Glasgow said she saw a long, slow-moving trail of yellow fire with a burning red circular tip passing through the sky accompanied by two sonic booms. "It looked like a plane had blown up in mid-air and was crashing. It was moving at an odd angle and seemed very low in the sky," she said. "It was incredible to see but a little frightening as I didn't really understand what I was looking at – I couldn't work out if it was a plane, a rocket, a meteor, a comet or what. When it was just out of my line of sight I heard what I thought were two gun shots or cars backfiring. They must have been sonic booms."

Brian Guthrie in Grangemouth said it had appeared to be something "pretty large breaking up in the atmosphere", and added: "I've seen shooting stars and meteor showers before, but this was much larger and much more colourful."

The lights were also clearly seen throughout the north of England, with people in Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, and Blackpool taking to Twitter to record the event.

Harry Walker, 14, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire, said: "It appeared to be low in the sky and took quite a while to fly across the horizon. It was amazing. We didn't know what we had seen but then everyone on Twitter was calling it a meteor."

Tim O'Brien, associate director of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, said: "It was probably 80 miles up, burning as it entered the atmosphere. If anything did come down, it would have landed in the ocean."

Meteorite fragments have been found from Australia and Antarctica to the Sahara Desert and the Great Plains in the USA. Only a few hundred had been discovered by the beginning of the 20th century but there are now more than 30,000 in collections across the globe.

The effect of larger meteorite impacts – especially those made by iron meteorites – are responsible for a number of famous craters, including Barringer Meteorite Crater in Arizona, Odessa Meteor Crater in Texas, the Wabar Craters in Saudi Arabia, and Wolfe Creek Crater in Western Australia.

Fonte: heraldscotland.com

quarta-feira, 19 de setembro de 2012

Largest moon rock ever auctioned could fetch $380,000

A moon rock for sale by Heritage Auctions came to Earth as a meteorite. The specimen is expected to sell for upwards of $380,000. (Heritage Auctions)

If you have some serious cash lying around, a chunk of the moon could be yours.
A piece of lunar meteorite is on sale at auction, and experts estimate the final price will tally at keast $340,000. The rock, called Dar al Gani 1058, is the largest piece of the moon ever to be auctioned, according to Heritage Auctions, which is handling the sale.
The 4-pound (1815 grams) meteorite is also the fourth-largest chunk of the moon available to the public, since the moon rocks collected by Apollo astronauts were never put up for sale.
"When it comes to the market for moon rocks, size does matter — but so does origin," said Robert Pearlman, editor of space history and artifacts site collectSPACE.com, a SPACE.com partner and contributor.
Moon rocks retrieved by human-made robotic probes, such as those sent by the United States and the Soviet Union, fetch higher prices than lunar meteorites, because collectors value the history they represent, he said.
"For example, three seed-sized pieces of the moon that were brought back to Earth by a Russian robotic probe in 1970 were sold at auction 30 years later for $442,500," Pearlman told SPACE.com. "And while the moon rocks recovered by the Apollo astronauts are considered National Treasures and have never been awarded to individuals, hypothetical appraisals have suggested even a 1-gram sample could be worth millions."
The slab-shape Dar al Gani 1058 came to Earth via natural forces, originating as a piece of lunar highland breccias from the moon's far side, experts say. Scientists don't know exactly when it was dislodged from the moon and fell onto Earth, but it was found in Libya in 1998, according to the Meteoritical Society. It was put up for auction by an anonymous collector.
The opening bid for the moon rock is $170,000, and the auction ends Oct. 14. Heritage Auctions calls the specimen "worthy of the most important natural history museums in the world."
While the rock is expected to go to a museum, a private buyer could also be the highest bidder.

Fonte: foxnews.com