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