Fire in the Sky
Fri, 19 Aug 2011 17:01 UTC
Residents of northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania should be on the lookout for space rocks.
At 1:22 a.m. Aug. 8, sky cameras belonging to the Southern Ontario Meteor Network in Canada recorded a meteor as it entered the Earth's atmosphere over Lake Erie, and scientists at NASA say they have "high confidence" that pieces of the meteor landed in northern Trumbull County.
The "fireball" entered the atmosphere 54 miles above Lake Erie, traveling south-by-southeast at approximately 55,900 mph. Dr. William Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, said debris created Doppler radar echoes west of Hermitage, Pa.
The International Astronomical Union defines a fireball as "a meteorite brighter than any of the planets." In essence, the mass and speed of the meteor increase its visibility, Cooke said.
Cooke said the fragments are about two to three inches in diameter and likely weigh a few ounces.
Patrick Durrell, an astronomy professor at Youngstown State University said the fragments can be difficult to identify, but there is at least one telltale sign.
"If you pick up a rock that feels a lot heavier than you'd expect for its size, that's a good place to start," Durrell said.
Durrell and Cooke both said meteorite landings like this one are highly common and occur daily.
Fri, 19 Aug 2011 10:28 UTC
"The movie sent chills down my spine," says Craig DeForest of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "It shows a CME swelling into an enormous wall of plasma and then washing over the tiny blue speck of Earth where we live. I felt very small."
CMEs are billion-ton clouds of solar plasma launched by the same explosions that spark solar flares. When they sweep past our planet, they can cause auroras, radiation storms, and in extreme cases power outages. Tracking these clouds and predicting their arrival is an important part of space weather forecasting.
"We have seen CMEs before, but never quite like this," says Lika Guhathakurta, program scientist for the STEREO mission at NASA headquarters. "STEREO-A has given us a new view of solar storms."
The Telegraph, UK
Fri, 19 Aug 2011 06:05 UTC
The news came as Nasa moved to calm fears that a comet is on a collision course with our planet.
The plans for a test mission to stop an asteroid from colliding with Earth come from Nasa's cousin, the European Space Agency.
In the Hollywood movie Armageddon, Bruce Willis attempts to blow up a huge asteroid hurtling towards Earth.
In real life, the mission, called Don Quixote, will see two spacecraft launched.
Comment: So on the one hand NASA publicises plans to blow up space rocks that may or may not be on a collision course with Earth, while on the other hand this US government agency ridicules the most outlandish claims about Comet Elenin. This 'speaking out of both sides of the mouth' is intended to reassure those waking up to the fact that Something Wicked This Way Comes that they have everything under control. They don't, of course. At most, they are planning their own escape while leaving us in the dark.
The fireball was detected by all-sky cameras from the Southern Ontario Meteor Network at 1:22 a.m. EDT (0522 GMT) on Aug. 8.
"It was picked up over Lake Erie and proceeded south-southeast over Ohio," said Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. [Video: See the Aug. 8 fireball]
Also known by its astronomical name C/2010 X1, the comet was first detected on Dec. 10, 2010 by Leonid Elenin, an observer in Lyubertsy, Russia, who made the discovery "remotely" using an observatory in New Mexico. At that time, Elenin was about 401 million miles (647 million kilometers) from Earth. Since its discovery, Comet Elenin has - as all comets do - closed the distance to Earth's vicinity as it makes its way closer to perihelion, its closest point to the sun.
NASA scientists have taken time over the last several months to answer your questions. Compiled below are the some of the most popular questions, with answers from Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and David Morrison of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
Comment: For more information on Elenin, comets and some interesting research on related phenomena see:
Elenin, Nibiru, Planet X - Time for a Sanity Check
Life's Little Mysteries
Wed, 17 Aug 2011 10:03 UTC
For any single human being, there are bigger things to worry about than death by space rock. For the long-term survival of humankind, on the other hand, asteroids pose a real danger.
A 6-mile-wide asteroid that struck off the coast of present-day Mexico 65 million years ago induced ecological changes that wiped out the dinosaurs. Inevitably, an Earth-shaking chunk of space debris will strike again.
However, so many earthly worries exist that a cosmic one which, at any given moment, is infinitesimally small doesn't garner much attention - or government funding. Several scientists who study asteroid hazards agree: Humankind probably won't start readying its planetary defenses until we know the danger is real. We'll need evidence that a large asteroid is actually headed here.
Will it be too late by then?
It depends. "Human beings can solve any technical problems that are put in front of us," said Daniel Durda, senior planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., and an expert on asteroid collisions. "It's the social and political issues that we struggle with." Rusty Schweickart, former NASA astronaut and founding member of the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the Earth from asteroid strikes, concurred: "The geopolitical realities are daunting. The technical issues are easy by comparison."
Irish Weather Online
Wed, 17 Aug 2011 11:36 UTC
The 575-foot-wide (175 metres) asteroid, which is more than one and a half times the length of a soccer pitch, will pass within 0.85 lunar distances of the Earth on November 8, 2011.
Discovered on December 28, 2005 by Robert McMillan of the Spacewatch Program near Tucson, Arizona, 2005 YU55 is believed to be a very dark, nearly spherical object.
According to NASA's Near Earth Object Program: "Although classified as a potentially hazardous object, 2005 YU55 poses no threat of an Earth collision over at least the next 100 years. However, this will be the closest approach to date by an object this large that we know about in advance and an event of this type will not happen again until 2028 when asteroid (153814) 2001 WN5 will pass to within 0.6 lunar distances."
See Trajectory of Asteroid here.
Tue, 16 Aug 2011 17:51 UTC
The briefing this week will review new observations from several NASA spacecraft, including the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (Stereo), that currently keep a close eye on the sun, agency officials said in the statement released today (Aug. 16). [Stunning Photos of Solar Flares & Sun Storms]
Thursday's briefing will be held at NASA's headquarters in Washington and will include presentations from several space weather experts.
- Madhulika Guhathakurta, Stereo program scientist, NASA Headquarters
- Craig DeForest, staff scientist, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.
- David Webb, research physicist, Institute for Scientific Research, Boston College
- Alysha Reinard, research scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado, Boulder
The sun is currently in an active phase of its 11-year solar weather cycle (the current season is called Solar Cycle 24) and has erupted with several major flares in recent weeks. The solar cycle will peak in 2013, NASA scientists have said.