quarta-feira, 31 de dezembro de 2014

Astronomical Prices of Meteorites in South Korea

SEOUL, Dec 30 (Korea Bizwire) – The 4.5 billion-year-old meteorites that fell in Jinju city, South Korea in March 2013 are having a hard time entering Korean scientific research circles due to their owners’ excessive compensation demands.

The Korean Government is attempting to purchase the meteorites for use in scientific research.

In March 2013, four meteorites weighing 35 kilograms in total fell on a farming site in Jinju. They are as old as the sun, and the first meteorites to land on the Korean peninsula in 71 years.

The Korean Government announced that it would buy the meteorites to benefit Korean scientific research communities, and to prevent the rare celestial objects from being sold to foreign collectors.

However, the current owners of the four meteorites are demanding more than 27 billion won (US$ 24.5 million) in compensation. Meteorites of 35 kilograms are usually sold for around 180 million won (US$ 163,526) on the international market.

The Korean Government offered the owners 350 million won (US$ 318,041), about twice the going marketprice. While the government’s offer was reasonable, the owners have so far refused to accept it. 

Meanwhile, a revised bill related to space development law was passed in a plenary session on December 29. The revised bill contains articles preventing meteorites found in Korea from being taken out of Korea, and also the establishment of a meteorite registration system.

Meteorites found in Korea will be registered by the minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning, and their status will continuously be tracked. The bill will be applied retroactively in the case of the Jinju meteorites.

Source: http://koreabizwire.com/

segunda-feira, 22 de dezembro de 2014

'Coal' found in meteorite points to life on Mars, says Chinese-led research team

Nasa announced last week that its rover had found methane gas on Mars, and around the time a Chinese-led team of scientists has reported finding an organic, coal-like substance in a meteorite knocked off the Red Planet. Both discoveries are prompting debate about life on earth's neighbour.

The researchers found traces of organic carbon bound to elements such as nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus, in a structure similar to that of coal found on earth. Their findings were detailed in this month's cover article of academic journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.

Zhang Jianchao , a co-author of the paper and planetary physicist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Geology and Geophysics, said the team was confident the coal-like substance came from Mars.

"We've spent more than half a year conducting the most stringent … tests," Zhang said.

Tissint, the name of the meteorite in which the substance was found, was knocked off Mars by an asteroid collision more than 700,000 years ago and contained evidence of water on the Red Planet.

The coal-like substance contained high levels of deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen that is rare on earth but abundant on Mars. Some particles were also wrapped in ancient molten rocks formed long before the meteoroid fell to earth, probably at the time of the asteroid collision.

The substance - like coal on earth - was also notable for its lack of the heavy carbon isotope C-13, which suggested that biological activities had produced the high concentration of the lighter carbon isotopes. The finding pointed to the possibility of life on Mars, the scientists said.

Professor Philippe Gillet - a co-author of the paper and director of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Laboratory at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland - said the findings reignited the debate on whether there was life on Mars.

"Our conclusions are such that they will rekindle the debate as to the possible existence of biological activity on Mars - at least in the past," he said.

Source: scmp.com

sábado, 20 de dezembro de 2014

Meteorite madness in an alien landscape

As the market grows in China, a dedicated band of professionals are risking life and limb searching for extraterrestrial material in the deserts of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Cui Jia reports from Urumqi.

China Daily is publishing a series of reports focusing on efforts that help the country to move forward.

Zhao Yuxian always refers to himself as a "hunter", even though his prey doesn't originate on Earth.

"I'm looking for space rocks that aliens throw at us. Of course, most people call them meteorites," the 31-year-old joked as he spun a wedding ring made from an iron meteorite on his finger. "Meteorites can be as old as the Earth, so a ring made from one is a better way of representing eternity than diamonds."

Although the sky-high prices they fetch at auction has seen public interest in meteorites growing in China in recent years, the dangers associated with finding fragments mean that few people are active hunters.

To his peers in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, a hardcore group of a few dozen professional meteorite hunters who prefer to be known by their nicknames, Zhao is "Falcon". He said the dry climate and flat topography of the nearby Taklimakan Desert make it one of the best places in the world, and certainly the best in China, to find meteorites.

Zhao was still excited when he recalled how in February he and two other hunters discovered a fragment of an iron meteorite in Lop Nur, a dried-out salt lake between the Taklimakan and the Kumtag Desert in Xinjiang. It was the only piece of extraterrestrial material he had found so far this year.

'Another planet'

"Discovering meteorites in the vast and depopulated Gobi, or any desert, is never an easy task, no matter how big they are. Sometimes when I look at the desert landscape I feel as though I am standing on another planet," he said.

Scientists have discovered that most meteorites, solid pieces of debris from sources such as asteroids or comets, survive impact, and most of the ones that land on Earth come from the asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Collisions in the densely crowded belt can cause asteroids to change course and head toward Earth, and because the asteriod belt was formed during the early history of the Solar System, they can be as old as the Earth, if not older.

According to Zhao, it's a little-known fact that meteorites hit the Earth every day.

Although collectively they can be measured in metric tons, many are as small as grains of sand, or are just space dust that no one notices, and meteorites with a diameter of about 1 millimeter hit the Earth about every 30 seconds.

"We hunt meteorites by examining and following the patterns in which they break away from the original meteor. The fragments become smaller and smaller the farther they are from the main point of impact. When we find one piece of meteorite, there are usually others nearby. What we need to do is work out the direction from which they hit our planet," he said.

Although the hunters use metal detectors to search for iron meteorites, which are mainly composed of an alloy of iron and nickel, when the space rock is made of stone, they have nothing to rely on except their eyes.

"When we find a meteorite, the first thing we do is to record its GPS and analyze its position, which can provide clues about which part of it hit Earth first. I am always fascinated by the journey the rock has to take from outer space to Earth," Zhao said. "Then comes the most rewarding part of meteorite hunting: We find it, dig it out, and give it a little kiss."

However, before 2010, Zhao, who has been in and out of the Lop Nur four times so far this year, knew nothing about meteorites. "I heard a news report that a fist-sized meteorite that landed in a village in Qitai couty in Xinjiang in 2009 had been put up for sale for 80 million yuan ($13 million). I became curious to know how a piece of ugly black rock could be that valuable," he said. "That was the time Chinese collectors began to invest in the meteorite market."

Scientific value

The Qitai meteorite was dug out by villagers who witnessed its descent. Because it's possible to pinpoint its point of origin in Earth and the date, it's the most valuable type of meteorite, Zhao said. "These types of meteorite are not only valuable because they sell for much higher prices - their value in terms of scientific research is also extremely high."

In November, an international team of researchers from China, Japan, Germany and Switzerland published research in a scientific journal claiming to have discovered evidence of biological activity inside a meteorite from Mars that landed in the desert in Morocco on July 18, 2011.

The meteorite, known as the "Tissint specimen", contained traces of carbon, and the scientists said the discovery could provide strong evidence that there was once life on the red planet.

In 2013, a meteor rained an estimated 10,000 tons of rock on the Chelyabinsk region of Russia. It was a once-in-a-century event, according to NASA officials, who described the meteor as a "tiny asteroid". The blast was the largest to hit Earth since the 1908 Tunguska incident in Siberia, when a meteorite strike flattened a forest.

The recent event left more than 1,500 injured, mostly with glass wounds from shattered windows, and attracted hunters from around the world, including three from Xinjiang. Sadly, they returned empty-handed, Zhao said.

He now owns a meteorite store in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, called "Sky-traveling Stars", which has also become a club for his fellow hunters.

In addition to selling meteorites he and his peers have found, Zhao also sells space rocks he has purchased from sources in Russia, Argentina and the United States.

"Initially, I was drawn to meteorites because I thought I could make money from them, but now I just love the process of finding them and being surrounded by them. To me, they are the most beautiful and mysterious stones, and they might hold the answers to some of the big questions about life and the universe."

Zhao and two other hunters have decided they will return to Lop Nur on Dec 22, despite a drop in the seasonal nighttime temperature to - 20 C. "We are risking our lives every time we go to hunt in these hostile deserts. Wish me luck - not only that I'll find a few meteorites, but also that I'll return safe and sound."

Source: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/

quinta-feira, 4 de dezembro de 2014

Marcian Tissint Meteorite / New Scientific Discoveries

Did Mars ever have life? Does it still? A meteorite from Mars has reignited
the old debate. An international team that includes scientists from EPFL has
published a paper in the scientific journal Meteoritics and Planetary
Sciences, showing that Martian life is more probable than previously

"So far, there is no other theory that we find more compelling," says
Philippe Gillet, director of EPFL's Earth and Planetary Sciences Laboratory.
He and his colleagues from China, Japan and Germany performed a detailed
analysis of organic carbon traces from a Martian meteorite, and have
concluded that they have a very probable biological origin. The scientists
argue that carbon could have been deposited into the fissures of the rock
when it was still on Mars by the infiltration of fluid that was rich in
organic matter.

Ejected from Mars after an asteroid crashed on its surface, the meteorite,
named Tissint, fell on the Moroccan desert on July 18, 2011, in view of
several eyewitnesses. Upon examination, the alien rock was found to have
small fissures that were filled with carbon-containing matter. Several
research teams have already shown that this component is organic in nature.
But they are still debating where the carbon came from.

Maybe biological, but not from our planet

Chemical, microscopic and isotope analysis of the carbon material led the
researchers to several possible explanations of its origin. They established
characteristics that unequivocally excluded a terrestrial origin, and showed
that the carbon content were deposited in the Tissint's fissures before it
left Mars.

The researchers challenged previously described views (Steele et al.,
Science, 2012) proposing that the carbon traces originated through the
high-temperature crystallization of magma. According to the new study, a
more likely explanation is that liquids containing organic compounds of
biological origin infiltrated Tissint's "mother" rock at low temperatures,
near the Martian surface.

These conclusions are supported by several intrinsic properties of the
meteorite's carbon, e.g. its ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12. This was found
to be significantly lower than the ratio of carbon-13 in the CO2 of Mars's
atmosphere, previously measured by the Phoenix and Curiosity rovers.
Moreover, the difference between these ratios corresponds perfectly with
what is observed on Earth between a piece of coal - which is biological in
origin - and the carbon in the atmosphere. The researchers note that this
organic matter could also have been brought to Mars when very primitive
meteorites - carbonated chondrites - fell on it. However, they consider this
scenario unlikely because such meteorites contain very low concentrations of
organic matter.

"Insisting on certainty is unwise, particularly on such a sensitive topic,"
warns Gillet. "I'm completely open to the possibility that other studies
might contradict our findings. However, our conclusions are such that they
will rekindle the debate as to the possible existence of biological activity
on Mars - at least in the past."

David R. Vann, Ph.D.
Department of Earth and Environmental Science
The University of Pennsylvania
240 S. 33rd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104

sexta-feira, 21 de novembro de 2014

UFO? Meteorite? Mystery Orange Glow Lights Up Russian Night Sky

This is the mysterious moment that a huge orange flash illuminated the night sky in a remote area of Russia - and no-one knows what caused it.

An explosion was captured by a driver with a dashboard mounted camera as he was cruising along a quiet stretch of motorway near Sverdlovsk in the mountainous Urals region of Russia.

The video, taken on November 14, shows a ball of orange light which rapidly expands to illuminate the entire road, turning the dead of night into the middle of the day for around ten seconds.

Expert opinion is divided on what actually caused the flash.

Source: ntd.tv

segunda-feira, 10 de novembro de 2014

Michigan-bred Jesuit is a Vatican astronomer and meteorite nerd

Brother Guy Consolmagno, who grew up in the Detroit area, curates the Vatican's meteorite collection at the Vatican Observatory located at the pope's summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy.

Men of faith have always looked to the heavens.

Tonight, a metro Detroit-bred Vatican astronomer, on the roof of the pope's summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, will gaze up at the sky to contemplate God - and science.

Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, a self-professed meteorite nerd, is one of 12 astronomers for the Vatican who will join stargazers around the world hoping to witness the annual Geminids meteor shower.

It's a job that's heaven-sent, said Consolmagno, who graduated from Birmingham Our Lady Queen of Martyrs grade school and University of Detroit Jesuit High School.

"Today, I would say that one of our most important missions ... is to reassure religious people that science is not a threat to their faith, but rather a great support, " Consolmagno said. "That by appreciating God's creation, we come closer to the Creator."

Consolmagno, 61, spends his time "working in the laboratory, playing with rocks that fall from outer space, giving talks around the world. I've even had a chance to go to Antarctica and look for meteorites."

"It's been a fantastic life."

He works in Italy about eight months and travels four months every year to give lectures and do research at a Vatican observatory based in Arizona.

Astronomers say the Geminid meteor showers can be the most vivid of meteor showers, with as many as 100 to 120 bright, blazing balls visible from any point on Earth. The Geminids, which continue through the middle of next week, peak tonight into Saturday morning.

Consolmagno said Jesuits have been studying the stars in the service of popes dating to the 1500s, charting the skies to help create an accurate calendar. But the Vatican also has been at war with astronomers, and Pope John Paul II apologized in 1992 for the centuries-old condemnation and imprisonment of Galileo for arguing that the Earth orbits the sun.

"Too many people with their own agendas want to build a wall between science and faith and demonize the one or the other, " Consolmagno said, "but that is bad for both science and faith."

Back in Michigan

When Consolmagno comes back to Michigan and visits longtime friends, family or Jesuits, he doesn't go looking for meteorites.

"There aren't many ... found in Michigan, " he said, "because it's hard to spot them among all the other odd rocks that the glaciers brought us."

Yet, Michigan meteorites are part of the Vatican's collection. The Vatican has four pieces of the meteorite Allegan, which fell over the western Michigan county on July 10, 1899, and four pieces of the Grand Rapids iron meteorite from 1883.

Some of the meteorites that are on display at the Cranbrook Institute of Science are on loan from the Vatican, courtesy of the onetime curious Birmingham kid who rode his bike to attend summer and weekend workshops there.

"It's my way of saying thanks for programs as a kid, " Consolmagno said of Cranbrook. "We went fossil hunting. There was a guy doing bird-tagging. Mostly, I remember the planetarium. It did everything you want a kid to do to keep him focused."

The meteorites on loan to Cranbrook include a piece of the Allegan, one from Mars that landed in north Africa, and one that landed in Germany.

Consolmagno has lectured at Cranbrook and stops in just to chat when he is in the area.

"He's an awesome guy, " said Cranbrook Institute's head astronomer, Mike Narlock. "He's incredibly personal. And he can take complex thoughts and ideas and bring them down to a basic level. He's a fantastic ambassador for both science and religion, as far as I am concerned."

'A space nut'

Consolmagno grew up the youngest of three siblings in Harper Woods and Birmingham. His dad, Joseph, was director of press relations at Chrysler. His mom, Patricia, worked as a teacher. Both live in Florida now. His brother is a musician in Marquette, and his sister is a retired grade school teacher in New Jersey.

"Sputnik went up the year I started kindergarten, and we landed on the moon when I was a senior in high school, " Consolmagno said, "so I grew up a space nut."

Just out of U-D High, Consolmagno worked at the Lapeer County Press, when its top editor was the late Free Press columnist Jim Fitzgerald. Consolmagno thought he'd become a journalist.

But after a year at Boston College, his love of science and science fiction led him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - "because it had the world's largest collection of science fiction" - where he received both bachelor's and master's degrees in earth and planetary sciences

He received a doctorate from the University of Arizona and returned to MIT for postdoctoral work. Tormented by thoughts that he should be doing something more meaningful than astronomy, Consolmagno joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Kenya. He was asked to teach astronomy classes in Nairobi, but he also took his telescopes to villages and delighted in rural Kenyans' reactions to seeing craters on the moon.

"These are the things that make us human, and if you deny that to someone, " Consolmagno said, "you are denying them their humanity."

After further stints as a college educator, he took vows as Jesuit brother in 1991. Consolmagno speaks Italian fluently. He learned German in high school and also has mastered Latin and Greek. He learned Swahili in the Peace Corps.

In the spotlight

Consolmagno's good-natured astronomical firepower has been featured on TV's "The Colbert Report." In 2009, he explained why the Vatican accepts the possibility of alien life. He has lunched, at their request, with William Shatner of "Star Trek" fame and the coproducer of "The Big Bang Theory, " fellow Michigan native Bill Prady. He also is the author of several books.

The Vatican's collection of meteorites comes from donations and a few items that Consolmagno has retrieved himself. He once camped for six weeks on Antarctic ice to look for meteorite remnants. It's one of the easiest places to look for meteorites because they stand out on the white surface.

Consolmagno helped welcome Pope Francis to the astronomy lab in July. He showed now-retired Pope Benedict what a sliver of a meteorite that fell near Benedict's German hometown looks like under a microscope. The late Pope John Paul II would invited the astronomers to mass.

One of Consolmagno's fondest Michigan memories is playing cards with his mom at a family cottage on Lake Huron. It wasn't who lost or won, but it was his mom's way of "telling me she loved me."

"Science is God's way of showing that he loves us. It's His way of playing with us, " Consolmagno said. "It's a way that we can engage the Creator. And every scientific puzzle is a game that He's set up. Every time I get it - I can hear Him cheering and go, 'Yeah, OK, let me show you the next one.'"

Source: www.freep.com

quinta-feira, 6 de novembro de 2014

Rare Mineral Discovered in Ancient Meteorite Impact Crater

A rare mineral known from just three massive meteorite impacts has now turned up in a Wisconsin crater.

Researchers discovered the mineral, called reidite, at the Rock Elm impact structure in western Wisconsin. Reidite is a dense form of zircon, one of the hardiest minerals on Earth.

This is the oldest reidite ever found,, said Aaron Cavosie, a geochemist at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez. The Rock Elm meteorite crater is 450 million to 470 million years old, he said.

Scientists first discovered the unusual high-pressure zircon in a laboratory in the 1960s. Reidite was finally identified in nature starting in 2001, at three impact sites: the Chesapeake Bay Crater in Virginia, Ries Crater in Germany and Xiuyan Crater in China.

The reidite was an utterly unexpected find for Cavosie, who was collecting zircons to establish a more precise impact age for the Rock Elm crater. "No one in their right mind would have looked for reidite in sandstone," he told Live Science. The Rock Elm crater was gouged out of carbonate rocks and sandstone that contains tiny fragments of quartz and zircon. The earlier reidite discoveries were all in impact melt breccias — a mix of rock that melted and cooled into glass during the impact and unmelted rock fragments.

"I work with the oldest zircons on Earth, and reidite is so much rarer than 4.4-billion-year-old zircons," said Cavosie, who presented the results of the research Oct. 22 at the Geological Society of America's annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Zircon morphs into reidite when shock waves from meteorite impacts hike up pressures and temperatures to extreme levels, equal to those deep inside the Earth where diamonds form. The pressure makes minerals tightly repack their molecules into denser crystal structures. Reidite has the same composition as regular zircon but is about 10 percent denser.

The specks of reidite Cavosie spotted are smaller than the diameter of a human hair and are scattered within "shocked" zircons that were fractured during the Rock Elm impact. But each mineral reflects light differently, which caught Cavosie's eye as he examined slices of rock under a powerful microscope. Working with colleagues in Australia, Cavosie confirmed the presence of reidite by zapping the tiny zircons with electrons. Every mineral scatters electrons in a unique way, and the tests confirmed the presence of reidite, Cavosie announced in Vancouver.

"This is a cool find in the realm of high-pressure metamorphism," Cavosie said.

It takes incredible pressure to transform zircon into reidite, so the mineral's presence means the Rock Elm crater underwent much higher shock pressures than originally thought, Cavosie said. The transition to reidite takes place anywhere between 30 and 80 gigapascals. Earlier pressure estimates from the crater's shocked quartz topped out at 10 gigapascals, according to previous studies.

Any impact crater carved from sandstone will also have zircon, and Cavosie now thinks reidite is likely more common than scientists previously thought. "It's now time to look for it where we never would have anticipated finding it," he said.

Source: livescience.com

terça-feira, 4 de novembro de 2014

1,000 times stronger than Chelyabinsk meteorite: New asteroid may threaten Earth

Moscow University’s robotic telescope has discovered a massive asteroid that could potentially hit Earth in the future. If such a collision happens, the explosion would be 1,000 more powerful the Chelyabinsk meteorite explosion in 2013.

An automatic telescope installed in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains, near the city of Kislovodsk, first spotted the newly discovered space rock, dubbed 2014 UR116. The asteroid is estimated to be 370 meters in diameter, which is bigger than the size of the notorious Apophis asteroid.

Once Russian astronomers saw the new space object, they passed the data to colleagues at the Minor Planet Center of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. That means many observatories around the world closely scrutinized 2014 UR116, which helped to calculate the object’s preliminary orbit.

2014 UR116’s orbit is fluctuating because it also passes close to Venus and Mars, and the gravitational pull of these planets can also influence the asteroid’s trajectory.

When a meteorite exploded in the skies above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, the energy of the explosion was estimated to be equivalent to 300-500 kilotons of TNT. But the Chelyabinsk meteorite was relatively small, about 17 meters in diameter and it disintegrated with a blast at an altitude of over 20 kilometers.

The newly discovered 2014 UR116 is much bigger and its collision with our planet would be catastrophic, as its impact power would be 1,000 times stronger than of the Chelyabinsk meteorite, Scientific Russia journal pointed out.

But the good news is that the asteroid poses no threat to Earth for at least the next six years, Victor Shor, research associate at the Institute of Applied Astronomy told the Interfax news agency.

At the moment the closest part of 2014 UR116’s orbit is 4.5 million kilometers from Earth. But this will change, so scientists are going to have to keep an eye on 2014 UR116 for years to come.

The robotic telescope network that discovered 2014 UR116 is called MASTER. It belongs to Moscow State University and was created in close cooperation with Russian universities in Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Blagoveschensk, the Kislovodsk station of Pulkovo Observatory and help from the National University of San Juan, Argentina.

MASTER has already snagged two other potentially dangerous asteroids: 2013 SW24 and 2013 UG1, but they were smaller than 2014 UR116, ‘only’ 250 and 125 meters respectively.

The video showing the movement of 2014 UR116 is made up of a number of photos taken by the MASTER robotic telescope, with several minutes interval between each one.

Source: http://rt.com/news

segunda-feira, 3 de novembro de 2014

Chinese rich pay sky-high for meteorite pieces

URUMQI) One small cheque to a businessman, one giant leap for a meteorite: after journeys of millions of kilometres, rocks formed from the primordial soup of the solar system have landed on the walls of a Chinese showroom.

For some of China's wealthy, the terrestrial trappings of fast cars, designer bags and deluxe apartments are worthless compared to bounty from outer space.

Tong Xianping is among the Chinese entrepreneurs paying astronomic prices and making an impact in one of the world's more arcane markets.

He spent a million yuan (S$209,800) on a chunk of the iron-packed Seymchan, pieces of which were first found in a Russian riverbed in 1967, and believed to be billions of years old.

"It was worth it," said Tong, 50, admiring the 176 kilogram mass, which calls to mind an inflated lump of coal. "They are news from space."

Tong keeps dozens of specimens under spotlights at his exhibition space in Urumqi, the capital of China's far-western Xinjiang region.

They include a knobbly brown rock that was part of Gibeon, a meteorite which crashed in prehistoric southern Africa. It also cost around a million yuan, Tong adds.

From a safe, he pulled out carbonaceous chondrites he scooped from the sands himself – ancient chunks resembling the nebula which produced the planets of the solar system.

"These are very complete fragments, and hard to find," he said.

Flashy purchases have made China's newly wealthy – often politically-connected businessmen – a subject of envy and ridicule.

"Company founders and bosses like big meteorites," said Tong, who made his money dealing in jade.

In close orbit of the safe lounged two fellow collectors, sipping a luxury brand of green tea.

"If there are good meteorites, rare ones, I'm willing to spend a lot," said one of the pair, an executive surnamed Liu, whose firm has won construction contracts on Urumqi's first subway line.

Tong is happy to be called a nouveau riche, he says, although he dismissed earthly possessions: "Cars are manufactured, but there can only be one of each meteorite."


Scholars study the rocks for clues to the origins of the solar system, and some believe they seeded Earth with organic molecules that enabled life to form.

Tong's own passion for interplanetary matter is facilitated by a global market with roots in remote deserts and polar regions, where the bodies are most easily spotted.

Top specimens fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction, but unlike palaeontologists and archaeologists who decry looting on their sites, experts in the field welcome the trade.

"We have a co-operative relationship with the collectors," said Monica Grady, a leading meteorite scientist at Britain's Open University. "We can't afford to go out and collect, but this small army of dealers will do it."

Finders depend on academics to accredit the specimens so that they have value on the market, while at the same time the scientists keep a chunk for themselves, she added.

But the wave of Chinese buyers has sent prices skyward and raised fears of forgeries among some veteran collectors.

"They are just interested in how much they are worth, they don't understand the science behind them," said Bryan Lee, a Chinese civil servant who scopes out specimens at the world's largest meteorite trade show, in the US desert city of Tuscon.

"It's led to an increase in fakes," he added.

Overseas commentators echoed his concerns.

"Chinese buyers like big specimens and their presence in the high end market has been noticeable," said Eric Twelker, columnist for the US-based Meteorite Times.

But he added: "Most submissions from China are mistaken or fraudulent. This has been going on for a number of years and I am wary of anything from China."


Tong, who stands almost two metres tall and has a fondness for imported '555' brand cigarettes, frequently ventures into China's vast Taklamakan desert in search of manna from heaven.

The world's second-largest expanse of shifting sands, the Taklamakan is known to insiders for the 1,000-kilogram Fukang meteorite discovered in 2000, which resembles a honeycomb in gold and silver when cut open – and is valued at millions of dollars. Tong owns a slice.

Aside from a brutal climate, Tong – who scoots around in a dune buggy – also has to contend with packs of wolves and hordes of aggressive insects.

"The ants came at us like a flood," he said of one incident. "They can eat a whole sausage in two minutes.

"I often come across snakes and poisonous spiders, but I love it.

"It's about doing what you want, and being far away from the world," he added. "The mysteries of the universe are endless, that's why we're interested in meteorites."

Source: features.insing.com/

sábado, 1 de novembro de 2014

Mingle with meteorites at Cincinnati Observatory

As long as it didn’t hit you, wouldn’t it be amazing if a rock from outer space landed in your backyard? Imagine the odds. The luck. You’d be rich, right?

Frequently, people bring interesting rocks to the Cincinnati Observatory in the hopes that they have discovered a meteorite. Unfortunately, every one of them has been a plain, old Earth rock: a meteor-wrong.

Meteorites fall to Earth daily, but finding a large one is extremely rare. Only about a dozen large meteorite falls have been verified in Ohio, ever.

What to look for

The easiest meteorites to find are magnetic. Although there are naturally magnetic Earth rocks, finding a rock that sticks to a magnet is a good start. Magnetic meteorites formed in the centers of large asteroids that shattered, orbited the Sun for eons and slammed into the Earth.

Meteorites are almost always dark in color. This black fusion crust developed during the brief, fiery moments when the rock plunged through the Earth’s atmosphere. When this happens, we call that streak of light a shooting star.

Large meteorites can have pits in them that look like thumbprints. Called regmaglypts, they formed on the space rocks as they plummeted through the atmosphere as well.

You probably won’t get rich finding meteorites in Ohio (we have some in our gift shop for as little as $5), but on Saturday at the Observatory you’ll have a chance to hold meteorites from around the world. You can even see most of those that fell in Ohio since the beginning of time. ■

Dean Regas is the outreach astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory and co-host of PBS’ “Star Gazers.” He can be reached at dean@cincinnatiobservatory.org.

If you go

What: Meet a Meteorite: Gathering the best meteorite collections in the Tristate for the public to explore, touch and buy – including pieces of the moon and Mars; plus, viewing of the moon through the old telescope (if clear)

When: 7-10 p.m. Saturday

Where: Cincinnati Observatory, 3489 Observatory Place, Mt. Lookout

Admission: $10 adult, $5 student; no reservations needed

Information: www.cincinnatiobserv atory.org

Source: cincinnati.com

Mike Madden of Honley finds 'meteorite' in garden

The unexpected has often happened to Mike Warren-Madden over the years.

He invented a bird feeding table that fitted on his head and was attacked by a squirrel when he wore it whilst out for a walk in the wood and was knocked to the ground. He should have been wearing his bubble-wrap suit.

That was another creation from the Honley man with an outsize sense of fun and a talent for lateral thinking. A suit made from bubble-wrap was perfect for someone with a poor sense of balance or had a tendency to fall over when he left the pub.

He made a bid to have the Royal Yacht Brittania put on the River Holme as a tourist attraction and suggested Buckingham Palace would be perfect for time share apartments to make a bit of extra spending money for the Queen.

He’s a champion tripe eater and snorer who has appeared on Comic Relief in Britain and comedy programmes in Germany where they have a strange sense of humour.

And who can ever forget when he turned his garden at Crackpot Cottage into a sanctuary for garden gnomes?

Anyway, the unexpected happened again this week.

“Do you remember when I wrote off to the Space Centre at Cape Canaveral?”

And yes, he did. He asked for a piece of moon rock for a charity auction and they sent him an application form to become an astronaut. I’m surprised he didn’t make the programme and go on to pick his rocks from the moon.

“Well, blow me down,” he says, “I was unlocking the door the other night when I heard a faint thud in the garden. Looking round, I didn’t see anything, so I took me’sen to bed.

“The next morning I was tucking into my porridge when I looked out of the French windows to see Fatty, our cat, sniffing at something in the lawn.

“I went out to take a peep and found it was a lump of rock embedded in the garden. It’s rock-like with smaller stones melted into it. I think it fell out of the sky and just missed my napper, so I have ended up with my space rock after all. Unless a neighbour chucked it at me to try and tell me something.

“I’d love some expert to have to look.”

Does Mike finally have his piece of moon rock?

Source: examiner.co.uk

quarta-feira, 29 de outubro de 2014

Podcast: Ronnie McKenzie Explains How to Identify a Real Meteorite – and Not Get Scammed

Ronnie McKenzie, author of Meteorites: A Southern African Perspective, spoke to Crystal Clear Radio about meteorites and how to identity them.

McKenzie has been collecting and studying meteorites for over 20 years, and says amateur collectors must be careful.

“There are a lot of meteor-wrongs that people try to pass off as meteorites,” McKenzie says, “and there’s a lot of scamming and people trying to sell you things as meteorites that are not meteorites.”

According to McKenzie, hematite, magnetite and basalt are three type of rock that are often passed off as meteorites, especially basalt, which can be slightly magnetic. Listen to the podcast to find out how to identity a real meteorite.

terça-feira, 9 de setembro de 2014

Meteorite leaves crater in Nicaraguan capital Managua

The impact left a crater 12m (40ft) wide and 5.5m deep

A small meteorite landed near the international airport in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, on Saturday night, government officials say.
Residents reported hearing a loud bang and feeling the impact, which left a crater 12m (40ft) wide and 5m deep.

Government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said the meteorite seemed to have broken off an asteroid which was passing close to Earth.

She said international experts had been called in to investigate further.

No-one was hurt when it hit the wooded area near the international airport and an air force base.

'Like a bomb'

An adviser to Nicaragua's Institute of Earth Studies (Ineter), Wilfried Strauch, said he was "convinced it was a meteorite" which caused the impact.
The meteorite landed in a wooded area near the international airport and an air force base

Nicaragua has asked experts for help to determine whether the meteorite came from the 2014RC asteroid

Experts studying the crater said it was not clear whether the meteorite had disintegrated upon impact or had been blasted into soil.

Locals said they heard a large blast just before midnight local time and reported a burning smell.

"We thought it was a bomb because we felt an expansive wave," Jorge Santamaria told Associated Press news agency.

Asteroid link?

Ineter scientist Jose Millan said that "we need to celebrate the fact that it fell in an area where, thank God, it didn't cause any danger to the population".

Managua, which has more than a million inhabitants is densely populated.

"All the evidence that we've confirmed at the site corresponds exactly with a meteorite and not with any other type of event," he said.

"We have the seismic register which coincides with the time of impact, and the typical characteristic that it produces a cone in the place of impact," he added.

Managua was hit by a meteorite in 1997, but this time there was no tell-tale streak of light, experts said

Astronomer Humberto Saballos said the meteorite could have broken off from the 2014RC asteroid which passed Earth at the same time.

2014RC, which is the size of a house, came closest to earth at 18:18 GMT on Sunday, when it passed over New Zealand at a distance of about 40,000km (25,000 miles).

The asteroid was first discovered on 31 August and, at its closest approach, was about one-tenth of the distance from the centre of Earth to the Moon, Nasa said in a statement.

It is expected to orbit near Earth again in the future.

In February 2013, a meteorite exploded over Chelyabinsk in Central Russia, injuring more than 1,000 people.

Nasa currently tracks more than 11,000 asteroids in orbits that pass relatively close to Earth.

Source: BBC

quarta-feira, 20 de agosto de 2014

Is there life on Mars? Nakhla meteorite indicates it's possible

The question of whether there is - or ever was - life on Mars has rumbled on for centuries, but a meteorite that landed on Earth more than 100 years ago could offer scientists new clues about the environment of our neighbouring planet.

The Nakhla meteorite, which landed in Egypt back in 1911, has already provided the first evidence of water on the red planet, but until now signs of life have eluded astrobiologists.

They came close in 2006, when NASA scientists broke open a fragment of the meteorite and found "an abundance" of complex carbon materials inside, resembling the effects of bacteria present in Earthly rocks. At the time, however, their findings were criticised on the grounds that carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe.

But a recently discovered oval-shaped structure within the Nakhla meteorite has a slightly different composition to the rest of the meteorite. This was caused during the development of its structure, when the wall of the ovoid was isolated from the rest of the system through the formation of a layer of Iron oxides and hydroxides.

Scientists from Greece and the UK believe it could hold new secrets about the existence of life on Mars, and have been using X-rays and electron microscopy to prise secrets from the rock.

The main finding, published in the journal Astrobiology, is that the ovoid is made of clay - the first documented presence of extensive clay in Nakhla. This is a crucial discovery because clay is an important material for giving rise to the geological conditions necessary for life formation.

They also discovered the ovoid's sub-surface contained multiple niche environments, each slightly different from the others. If these are also present on the shallow subsurface of Mars, life could have the potential to develop, the scientists concluded.

While this is no definitive sign of life on Mars, it is an indication that it could have existed, the team said.

Professor Sherry L. Cady, who was involved in the study, said: "Though the authors couldn't prove definitively that the object of focus was evidence of life, their research strategy revealed a significant amount of information about the potential for life to inhabit the subsurface of Mars."

It's not just the potential for life originating on Mars that the study has helped scientists to understand, either; it is objects like the martian ovoid that could, ultimately, pave the way for our own relocation to Mars in the future.

“These studies may also be useful for assessing the possible habitability of the martian subsurface,” the report concludes.

Source: http://www.cityam.com/

sexta-feira, 25 de julho de 2014

Are we ready to face space Armageddon?

It was a chilly late November afternoon in 1954. A 34-year-old Ann Elizabeth Hodges was having a nap on a sofa in her Oak Grove home in Albama near Sylacauga. Suddenly, one small black rock slammed through her ceiling and fell on the radio before hitting her leg.

Astounded US Air force later confirmed the black rock to be meteor which eventually came to be known as Sylacauga meteorite.

But Ann was not the first person to be hit by alien object. One Italian manuscript stated that in one Milanese friar was killed by meteorite in 1677. One Ugandan boy was hit with tiny fragment of meteor in 1992.

Though incidence of individual humans getting hit by alien rocks is really very rare in recent times, but incidence of large scale of devastation brought in by marauding meteors is just too many in the history of the planet earth.

Sixty five million years ago 10-km-wide asteroid hit north of Yukatan peninsula unleashing chains environmental revolutions which ultimately drove dinosaurs to extinction.

In 1490 an asteroid broke over Chinese city of Chiling-yang driving 10,000 people to death. In 1908 a 50-metre-wide asteroid exploded over Siberia resulting deforestation of 2,000 square km area and death of thousands of animals.

Again another meteor exploded over Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, causing strong shockwave which in turn injured more than 100 people.

Australian engineer Michael Paine has shown through his simulation model that the planet earth has been hit by large alien rocks as many as 350 times causing drastic climate change such as ice age in the last 10,000 years.

He has predicted that the space rocks could cause death to as many as 13 million people, even inducing war and bringing famine in next 10,000 years.

Earth-hitting asteroids could trigger a tsunami as well if the meteor plunges into the ocean and Paine simulation has estimates of average 470,000 deaths per tsunami.

Ukrainian scientists have warned that an asteroid is on the way towards earth and it would hit the blue planet in 2032, though Nasa does not think it to be on collision course.

So how is the world gearing up to face this menace?

The present situation is such that no country could afford to ignore this peril and UN has constituted a global body christened as International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) involving the US, Russia, Germany, Holland, EU, Italy and International Astronomical Union (IAU) to co-ordinate and develop mitigation measure of ever growing dangers of asteroids.

Nasa's Near Earth Asteroid Tracking System is operational for last decade and now IAU's asteroid tracking satellite is very much in pipeline too.

But as the problem could hit any nation, there is urgent need for global co-operation. Other space powers like India, China, Japan, France, the UK are also being invited to IAWN. Other countries like Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, Argentina are to be invited too.

Former astronaut Ed Lu rightly stated," Chelyabinsk was bad luck. If we get hit again 20 years from now, that is not bad luck-that's stupidity."

But despite all warning and tracking systems one big question still looms large. What would happen if suddenly one asteroid is seen rushing towards blue planet? Can we destroy it? Once Nasa's famous response was to pray.

The author is a senior journalist specialised in technology. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely his and not of Times of Oman.

Source: Times of Oman

sexta-feira, 18 de julho de 2014

Nasa's Curiosity rover finds large iron meteorite on Mars

The iron meteorite discovered by the Curiosity rover must once have been at the heart of a growing planet that was shattered aeons ago.

Meteorites like the one discovered by Curiosity are time capsules – often the fragments of doomed worlds from the beginning of our solar system. Photograph: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

The meteorite is made of iron and about 2 metres long, which is about the width of the Nasa rover that found it. It is the first meteorite that Curiosity has found on Mars. Scientists have named it Lebanon – presumably because of its shape.

Meteorites are lumps of rock and metal that fall from space and impact the surface of a planet. They are time capsules, usually representing the shattered fragments of doomed worlds from the beginning of our solar system.

Around 4.6bn years ago, the sun and planets of our solar system began to form. This involved the collision of various rocks and asteroids that melted together and gradually built the Earth, Mars and the other planets. Astronomers call this process "hot accretion". With the planets being molten, the heavy metals such as iron would sink towards the centre of each planet, while the lighter rocks would float to the surface and cool into the landforms.

As the planets grew in size, however, so the collisions between them tended to become more violent. Sometimes, the nascent worlds would be shattered rather than melted together. Iron meteorites come from the deep, core regions of these doomed planets.

According to the Nasa statement that accompanied the image, the cavities visible on this meteorite may once have been filled with olivine minerals. If so, that could indicate it hailed from a place near the core-mantle boundary in its parent world. This was where the iron core gave way to the rocks and minerals of the mantle region.

Although this is the first meteorite found by Curiosity, its predecessor rovers Spirit and Opportunity both found numerous smaller examples. The first meteorite on Mars was discovered by Opportunity in 2005, close to its landing site at Meridiani Planum. That too was an iron meteorite.

Meteorites may be common on Mars because there is very little atmosphere to weather them away. On Earth, meteorites survive for a few million years before being eroded away. On Mars, the weathering rate is probably a thousand times slower, so meteorites could last for billions of years. They would accumulate on the surface of the planet like flies on fly-paper.

A study performed by Bland and Smith in 2000 estimated that there could be between 500 and 500,000 meteorites with a mass greater than 10 grams for every square kilometre of Mars.

A meteorite geologist on Mars would have a field day. He or she could use this collection to check for changes in the flux of meteorites over the ages, or look for rare compositions. It is possible that meteorites blasted from the Earth’s surface could be lying on Mars, just as pieces of Mars have been found as meteorites on Earth.

Curiosity is almost two years into its mission. It is still en route to Mount Sharp, the shallow mountain it will attempt to ascend. Progress has been much slower than anticipated. Partly this is because the mission's geologists keep wanting to stop and investigate interesting looking rocks. And partly because the wheels of the rover are showing more damage that anyone expected.

It seems it's tough going when you off-road on Mars. But discoveries such as this meteorite make the journey as well as the destination worthwhile.

Stuart Clark is the author of Is there Life on Mars? (Quercus). Follow him on twitter as @DrStuClark

Source: .theguardian.com

quinta-feira, 10 de julho de 2014

Talisman made from a 9,000 year-old METEORITE found inside a prehistoric shaman's hut

  • Researchers in Poland have found a prehistoric meteorite in a hut
  • The 9,000 year-old object was believed to belong to a stone-age shaman
  • Found along with other objects associated with magic such as an amulet
  • The small meteorite was shaped into a cylindrical and porous object
  • And the researchers suggest the humans knew it fell from space

  • Archaeologists have found a meteorite fragment in a shaman's hut dating back 9,000 years that seems to have been worshipped as a magical object.
    The talisman was found alongside other objects that were considered sacred at the time including an amulet and a stick made of antler.
    It's thought it gained this status because the prehistoric stone age humans saw it fall from space, suggesting they may have known it came from another world.

    A meteorite fragment from 9,000 years ago has been found by archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology (IAE) in Szczecin, Poland. It's believed humans at the time were aware that it was from out of this world and worshipped it as a magical object

    Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Szczecin, in north west Poland, found the meteorite fragment inside the caveman house by lake Swidwe in Western Pomerania during excavations. 
    The object was a natural pyrite meteorite fragment, pyrite being an iron sulfide mineral often referred to as fool's gold owing to its yellowish appearance.

    This meteorite, which measured eight by 5.3 by 3.5 centimetres (3.1 x 2.1 x 1.4 inches) has a cylindrical shape and was porous, with a corrugated surface on its side.

    Of most interest, though, was that the rock appears to have been worshipped by humans at the time, and they were perhaps even aware that it did not originate on Earth.
    'The meteorite was brought to the shelter as a special object, they seem to have recognised it was not of this world,' said head of research for the Institute, Tadeusz Galinski.
    'The thing became an object of belief, and maybe even shamanic magic. 
    'They may have realised it was different if it was spotted as it fell to earth, and would have been identified by the crater it made, and the heat it would have had from entering the earth's atmosphere.
    'In addition, the side profile shape suggests various associations; the original finder millennia ago probably saw in it shapes of a mysterious world of spirits.'

    The find was made inside a caveman house by lake Swidwe in Bolków, Western Pomerania during excavations. The object was a natural pyrite meteorite fragment, pyrite being a yellowish iron sulfide mineral often referred to as fool's gold owing to its yellowish appearance
    He added that the fragment is 'surprisingly heavy' and that the discovery was the first of its kind in archaeology where a primitive people was known to have worshipped a heavenly object.
    Along with the meteorite, the researchers also found other objects associated with magic, including an amulet, bone spear tip with engraved ornament and a magic stick made of antler, decorated with geometric motifs.
    The meteorite was discovered last year but it is only now that the researchers have been able to determine what it was used for.

    Along with the meteorite the researchers also found other objects associated with magic including an amulet, bone spear tip with engraved ornament and a magic stick made of antler, decorated with geometric motifs. This suggests it was once worshipped as a sacred object (illustration of a shaman shown)

    Source: dailymail.co.uk

    terça-feira, 1 de julho de 2014

    Archaeologists Say Cavemen Worshipped Meteorite After it Fell to Earth

    A meteorite found in a 9,000-year-old hut believed to have belonged to a stone age shaman was probably worshipped by stone age man as a magical object.

    Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Szczecin, in north west Poland, found the meteorite fragment inside the caveman house by lake Swidwe in Western Pomerania during excavations.

    Head of research for the Institute, Tadeusz Galinski, told local media: "The meteorite was brought to the shelter as a special object, they seem to have recognised it was not of this world.

    "The thing became an object of belief, and maybe even shamanic magic. They may have realised it was different if it was spotted as it fell to earth, and would have been identified by the crater it made, and the heat it would have had from entering the earth's atmosphere.

    "In addition, the side profile shape suggests various associations; the original finder millennia ago probably saw in it shapes of a mysterious world of spirits," he added.

    He added that the fragment is "surprisingly heavy" and that the discovery was the first of its kind in archaeology where a primitive people was known to have worshipped a heavenly object.

    Along with the meteorite, the researchers also found other objects associated with magic, including an amulet, bone spear tip with engraved ornament and a magic stick made of antler, decorated with geometric motifs.

    The meteorite was discovered last year but it is only now that the researchers have been able to determine what it was used for.

    Source:   http://austriantimes.at/

    domingo, 22 de junho de 2014

    Rare Fossil 'Mona Lisa' Meteorites May Be Evidence Of Ancient Cosmic Collision

    They're being likened to the Mona Lisa -- four fossil meteorites that may be linked to an ancient cosmic crash in the early universe.

    Dr. Philipp Heck, curator of meteorites and polar studies at the Field Museum in Chicago, made the comparison to the iconic Leonardo da Vinci portrait -- and not without reason.

    “They are so rare and so unique,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “If people really saw the significance of these, they will stand out next to all these other 50,000 meteorites" -- the number of known meteorites around the world.

    The golf ball-sized meteorites, which are set to go on display at the museum by year-end, are among only 100 such fossilized meteorites known to exist. They were recovered from a limestone quarry in southern Sweden.

    The first fossil meteorite ever discovered was found in Sweden in 1952, and it took almost 30 years before it was identified as a meteorite.

    According to Heck, researchers have only just now scratched the surface of determining the origin of the meteorites. So far, they think the meteorites may have fallen to Earth almost 500 million years ago as the remnants of a giant asteroid collision.

    Source:  huffingtonpost.com

    sexta-feira, 6 de junho de 2014

    Asteroid HQ124: Huge Asteroid will pass by Planet Earth this Sunday

    A potential hazardous asteroid is approaching Earth on Sunday, 8 June 2014. The gigantic asteroid named 'Asteroid HQ 124' is flying at a speed of 31,000 mph. The dangerous meteorite that was discovered in April this year has now earned a new name 'The Beast,' according to NASA.

    The asteroid is inclined to the horizon over 25 degrees of the solar system and is currently inclined to about -71 degrees.

    On Friday, 6 June, the asteroid will brighten up to about magnitude 13.8 and will be able to locate in the pale constellation Horologium. However, on 8 June the asteroid will make the nearest approach to Earth and cross the cosmic equator to become a northern hemisphere object, according to Guardian Liberty Voice.

    Though it is not unusual for an asteroid to fly past Earth or just outside the moon's orbit, it is less unlikely to discover a formerly unknown celestial body of such size.

    The meteorite, asteroid HQ 124 was discovered in April 2014 by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) that was launched in December 2009.

    The meteorite will be out of reach from most of the southern telescopes and will not be visible in astronomical twilight while the meteorite closely approaches the Earth. It can, however, be viewed online. The near approach of the asteroid will be webcasted by the Slooh Visual Observatory website live from Australia.

    Viewers will be able to view the rare sighting from the website. The website will begin the live coverage on 5 June 2014 at 2:30 PM EDT (18:30 GMT) or 6 June 2014 at 12:00 am IST. It will be accompanied by discussions held by several experts and astronomers.

    Check out for the live coverage of the asteroid approaching Earth

    Recently, NASA and Slooh have teamed up in order to involve other scientists who are not astronomers to help them track Near-Earth objects by using Slooh's observatories. Using this opportunity, scientists can gain access to expert telescopes and able to locate asteroids that could be hazardous to the entire world.

    The newly discovered hazard meteorite has shown the importance of finding and tracking the orbits of asteroids. Moreover, it has been found that Near-Earth objects like an asteroid of a great size could make major impact to a city.

    Source: .ibtimes.com.in

    domingo, 1 de junho de 2014

    Death by Meteorite!

    It is one of the most unlikely ways to die, but the history of alleged cases suggests that it can happen from time to time!

    Supposedly, tens of thousands of people were killed during the Chíing-yang meteorite shower in the Shansi province of China between April and May of 1490. Modern researchers are generally skeptical about the number of fatalities, which cannot be corroborated among the multiple records of this event, but the figure is consistent with what we might expect had the well-documented Tunguska event of 1908 occurred over a densely populated urban area.

    Researchers are skeptical of other deaths attributed to meteorites, such as the death of a Franciscan friar in 1633, the deaths of two sailors in the Indian Ocean in 1647, and the death of an Indiana man in his bed in 1879. The 1800s were a time of elaborate hoaxes staged for maximum press coverage, so researchers take a dim view of most spectacular accounts from the 19th century where no other people geographically nearby seem to have observed anything out of the ordinary, such as in this next story.

    On March 10, 1897, in Martinsville, West Virginia, a meteor exploded over the town. This was announced in a front-page New York Times article published on March 11, 1897:

    A meteor burst over the town of New Martinsville yesterday. The noise of the explosion resembled the shock of a heavy artillery salute, and was heard for twenty miles. The cylindrical shaped ball of fire was forging along in a southwesterly direction when first discovered. The hissing sound of the fire could be heard for miles, and the smoke gave the meteor the appearance of a burning balloon.

    When the meteor exploded the pieces flew in all directions, like a volcanic upheaval, and solid walls were pierced by the fragments. David Leisure was knocked down by the force of the air caused by the rapidity with which the body passed, before it broke. The blow rendered him unconscious. One horse had its head crushed and nearly torn from the trunk by a fragment of the meteor, and another horse in the next stall was discovered to be stone deaf.

    The coming of the meteor was heralded by a rumbling noise, followed in an instant by the hissing sound, and immediately the ball of fire, spitting and smoking, burst into full view, and before the people had time to collect their senses, the explosion occurred.

    In the 20th century we have a series of reports that should be verifiable, at least in principle, but have not been as yet.

    The Hsin-píai-wei meteorite of 1907 allegedly killed Wan Teng-kuei's entire family, who were crushed to death, possibly from the collapse of their house after impact. Then, according to an article in The New York Times on Dec. 8, 1929, a wedding party in a small town in Yugoslavia was struck by a meteorite, with one person being killed. Finally, on Aug. 15, 1951, 62 houses were destroyed in Tehran, Iran, by a meteorite shower. Twelve people were killed and 19 injured. In addition, 300 livestock were killed. The event was reported by Iranian newspapers and the United Press and is reported to have been published in the Lowell Sun of Massachusetts. Why didn'tThe New York Times carry it, given the devastation?

    For some reason, meteorites seem to have an affinity for automobiles!

    The first documented case of a car being struck by a meteorite occurred on Sept. 29, 1938, in Benld, Illinois. A meteorite crashed through the roof of a garage; struck the car; penetrated its roof, backseat, and floorboards; bounced off the muffler; and finally lodged in the cushions of the seat.

    Another famous encounter between a car and a meteorite happened on Oct. 9, 1992, in Peekskill, New York. The fireball from the 22,000-pound meteorite was seen streaking across the sky as from as far away as Kentucky. A fragment of the meteorite weighing 26 pounds struck the car of Michelle Knapp and tore a hole through her trunk. The Chevy Malibu was sold for $69,000 and is now in a museum.

    The only injury accepted as having been caused by a meteorite in the 20th century occurred in Sylacauga, Alabama, on March 30, 1954. Mrs. "Annie" Hodges was taking a nap on her sofa one afternoon when she was awoken by an explosion. She then noticed that she was seriously bruised on her left hip, abdomen and arm. An 8-pound meteorite had crashed through her roof, bounced off a radio, and hit her. The incident was picked up quickly by the press and heavily photographed.

    The most publicized and researched event of them all was the famous Chelyabinsk meteor in Russia, which, on Feb. 15, 2013, injured an estimated 1,500 people! About 112 people were later hospitalized, two in serious condition. They had been severely injured by flying glass as they watched the bright daytime light detonate, producing a powerful shock wave that damaged about 3,000 buildings. Had the 10,000-ton meteor detonated over London, Paris or New York, the injuries from flying glass would have been in the hundreds of thousands, and plausibly there would have been many fatalities. Again, as in the 1908 Tunguska event, we got lucky.

    What are the odds of dying?

    The average global population during the 20th century was about 4 billion. Let's suppose that all the alleged deaths by meteorites are reliable, so there were about 20 people killed over the course of 100 years. This means the death rate is about one person in 20 billion per year. In your 80-year lifespan, you have a one-in-250-million chance of being killed by a meteor. The problem is that you can be in your house, at a wedding, or just about anywhere else and it doesn't matter. You might as well go outside and admire the next meteor shower.

    Go on. I dare ya!

    Source: huffingtonpost.com

    domingo, 25 de maio de 2014

    Man Finds Iron Meteorites in His Garden

    HARDEMAN COUNTY, Tenn. -- Chris Wooden says the Discovery Channel showed him what he had in his front yard wasn't just a rock.

    "I didn't know what it was. It was covered up with rust so I just threw it to the side and kept working," said Wooden.

    Now he believes that rust rock is actually a meteorite that made it to earth. He says the magnetization and them metal quality told him what it was.

    Wooden explained ever since he found that first meteorite in his garden last year, he has kept an eye out. He was shocked to find another 91 pound meteorite in a field, but said he is even more shocked at how much they are worth.

    A quick internet search will show meteorites go for about two dollars per gram. The 92 pound one he found could be worth more than $80,000.

    He says all the land behind him could be a gold mine.

    "You gotta think ain't nobody over here looking for 'em all down through here is nothing but hills, holes, you have to think about it," said Wooden.

    Wooden says he does hope to sell the meteorites.

    Source: http://www.wbbjtv.com/

    domingo, 18 de maio de 2014

    Can NASA Save Us from an Asteroid Ready to Slam into Earth?

    We've seen the destruction that even a small meteorite entering the Earth's atmosphere can cause when it impacts our planet, a la the Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russia in February 2013, so the implications of a much larger, scarier meteor on a collision course with Earth are even more dire. If a massive space rock were found to be hurtling towards our planet, would NASA or any of the world's space agencies be able to stop it or at least minimize the impact? NASA's ambitious asteroid lassoing mission will give us a good indication of what our capabilities are, or can be, should we find a large space rock headed in our direction.

    NASA announced last year that it plans to capture a near-Earth asteroid in a stable lunar orbit that astronauts will then be able to visit for research and exploration. During this mission NASA may be able to test out Earth's defenses against space rocks.

    The mission's details are still being worked out, and NASA officials have stated that different methods could be used to deflect asteroids heading to Earth. If the mission grabs a small space rock or large boulder off an asteroid's surface, a planetary defense demonstration would be involved, which would show the first test of an enhanced gravity tractor in space.

    This gravity tractor technique would use a robotic probe flying next to a space rock for months, maybe even years, while a small gravitational tug slowly pushes it off its course. If the probe has a larger mass, it will have a greater gravitational pull. Taking a boulder off an asteroid that could damage Earth will help to significantly increase the mass of the deflection mission.

    Lindley Johnson, program exective for NASA's Near-Earth Object (NEO) observations program said:

    "We'd go into this enhanced gravity tractor position after we retrieve the boulder and demonstrate that we have even more gravity attraction capability by doing that."

    Johnson added that nearly a dozen candidates have been found for the mission, with at least six for each option. The best rock to use for the boulder grabbing mission could be Itokawa, a 1,750-foot-long space rock that was visited by Japan's Hayabusa probe in 2005.

    The U.S. government has set a 2025 exploration deadline to have astronauts visit the yet-to-be-selected asteroid. In 2010, President Barack Obama told NASA to land on a nearby asteroid by 2025 and on Mars by the mid 2030s.

    The mission is currently in a "preformuation" phase, which means that NASA is still looking over ideas and data for the mission. NASA is hoping to have a basic concept for the mission by the end of 2014.

    Source: clevelandleader.com

    sexta-feira, 16 de maio de 2014

    'Mystery flaming object' spotted crashing to Earth in Australia

    No debris found after Queensland residents call police over unexplained object the size of 'half a dozen jumbo jets' falling from the sky in flames

    Residents of northeastern Australia have reported seeing a flaming object plummeting to Earth, police said on Friday, adding that the incident remains a mystery as no evidence of a crash has been found.

    Queensland state police said they received several reports from the northern city of Townsville on Thursday evening about a burning object falling from the sky, possibly hitting the ground near Ross River Dam.

    “[It was reported as] something about the size of a small plane travelling at a very high speed with a reddish-green flame coming out of the back or it,” a police spokesman told reporters.

    “It was travelling at a very high velocity.”
    “[Impact was] like an explosion but without a sound ... like an atomic bomb effect.”

    Townsville resident Kim Vega told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) she thinks she saw the moment of impact, describing it as “like an explosion but without a sound”.

    It would have been “like an atomic bomb effect” when it crashed, she added, with all the trees and the skies lit up.

    Fellow Townsville resident Terry Robinson agreed the unknown object was large, telling the ABC: “This thing hit like a bomb – it was huge.

    “I don’t know how big it was, but in the sky it looked like half a dozen jumbo jets falling out of the sky at the same time,” he said.

    Police said there were no aircraft unaccounted for, nor had other aircraft reported seeing a bright falling object, leading to speculation it could have been a meteorite or some sort of space junk.

    “At this stage there is no confirmation of anything,” the police spokesman said. “Nothing’s been found.”

    Owen Bennedick, from Queensland’s privately-run Wappa Falls Observatory, said he thought the object was most likely to be a satellite or part of one falling to Earth and efforts would be made to find it.

    He said the object would likely have caused a colossal thumping noise when it hit the ground and, given the full moon on Thursday, would have been seen by a lot of people.

    “I think we will find that it will be a piece of a satellite,” he told reporters, adding that because it was viewed over a large area and was travelling slower than a meteorite it was probably a man-made object.

    “This thing burned for a long time, a lot of people saw it, and indications are it was a satellite,” he said.

    Source: scmp.com/news

    quinta-feira, 3 de abril de 2014

    Norwegian skydiver nearly struck by meteorite

    “This is the first time in history that a meteorite has been filmed in the air after its light goes out,” says geologist Hans Amundsen.

    One summer day in 2012, Anders Helstrup and several other members of Oslo Parachute Club jumped from a small plane that had taken off from Østre Æra Airport in Hedmark.

    Helstrup, wearing a wing suit and with two cameras fixed to his helmet, released his parachute. On the way down he realised something was happening.

    “I got the feeling that there was something, but I didn’t register what was happening,” Helstrup explained to NRK.no.
    Read article in Norwegian

    Immediately after landing, he looked through the film from the jump, which clearly showed that something did happen.

    Something that looks like a stone hurtles past Helstrup – clearing him by only a few metres.
    Search party in the forest

    Later that day, Helstrup returned to Oslo. But he could not stop thinking about his strange experience, so he took time off from work to go back to the Rena area for a couple of days to look for the stone – but with no luck.

    Anders Helstrup in his wing suit. FOTO: ROGER MYREN / NRK

    “We continued the search during the summer. I got my girlfriend, family and friends to join the project. We searched the forest and kept looking."

    By then, Helstrup had already formed the idea that it was a meteorite that flew past him.

    “When we stopped the film, we could clearly see something that looked like a stone. At first it crossed my mind that it had been packed into a parachute, but it’s simply too big for that.”
    Meteorite experts get involved
    Eventually Helstrup contacted the Natural History Museum in Oslo.
    “The film caused a sensation in the meteorite community. They seemed convinced that this was a meteorite, perhaps I was the one who was the most sceptical.”

    Now Helstrup suddenly had a whole flock of meteorite enthusiasts following him. They analysed and triangulated and narrowed down the search area.

    In the summer of 2012 Helstrup and his helpers had begun searching an area of one and a half square kilometres. Today, the area has been limited to 100 times a hundred meters, but that’s big enough – especially when you’re not really sure what a meteorite looks like.

    “I found a stone which I thought was a meteorite and took it to the museum. They just fell about laughing,” Helstrup revealed.
    “It can’t be anything else”

    Although Helstrup is still not completely convinced that it was indeed a meteorite that flew past him, the experts are in no doubt.

    “It can’t be anything else. The shape is typical of meteorites – a fresh fracture surface on one side, while the other side is rounded,” said geologist Hans Amundsen.

    He explained that the meteorite had been part of a larger stone that had exploded perhaps 20 kilometres above Helstrup.

    Amundsen thinks he can make out coloured patches in the stone, and believes that in that case it may be a breccia – a common type of meteorite rock.

    Eldrid Borgan, Hans Amundsen, Anders Helstrup and Morten Bilet at Naturhistorisk Museum. FOTO: ROGER MYREN / NRK

    “A world first”

    When a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it slows down and ionizes molecules around it; it is this blazing track across the sky that is called a meteor.

    When the light disappears, the meteorite enters the stage called "dark flight"; it then no longer travels at an angle, but falls straight down.

    “It has never happened before that a meteorite has been filmed during dark flight; this is the first time in world history,” said Amundsen.

    That fact means that the meteorite, which Amundsen says would normally be worth a few hundred thousand kroner, is actually far more valuable than its weight would suggest.

    Help needed

    How valuable the meteorite may be remains irrelevant so long as it has not been found.

    “We just have to find out exactly where Anders was when the meteorite passed. At that moment the meteorite was falling straight down at about 300 kilometres per hour,” said Amundsen.

    He points out that the terrain is difficult to search in – marshes, thick forest and scrub. And now they want help in both calculating and searching. To get help, they have created a website.

    “The aim of the website is to present the story in simple terms, relating what happened and letting people see the videos and still pictures,” explained Helstrup.

    “Now nerds and creative people from all over the world can have a go,” said Amundsen.

    He finds it hard to give an opinion on the probability of filming a meteorite during a parachute jump, but makes a try anyway.

    “It’s certainly much less likely than winning the lottery three times in a row.”

    Source: http://www.nrk.no/