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Fri, 21 Oct 2016
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Bright meteor fireball recorded over Espirito Santo, Brazil

The meteor fireball was recorded by a monitoring station
A bright meteor fireball was recorded on Thursday 20th October 2016 by a monitoring station over northern Espirito Santo, Brazil, at 03:56AM.


New study: Extraterrestrial impact preceded ancient global warming event

© Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Microtektites as first seen in a sediment sample from the onset of the Paeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.
A comet strike may have triggered the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a rapid warming of the Earth caused by an accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide 56 million years ago, which offers analogs to global warming today. Sorting through samples of sediment from the time period, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute discovered evidence of the strike in the form of microtektites - tiny dark glassy spheres typically formed by extraterrestrial impacts. The research will be published tomorrow in the journal Science.

"This tells us that there was an extraterrestrial impact at the time this sediment was deposited - a space rock hit the planet," said Morgan Schaller, an assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Rensselaer, and corresponding author of the paper.

"The coincidence of an impact with a major climate change is nothing short of remarkable." Schaller is joined in the research by Rensselaer professor Miriam Katz and graduate student Megan Fung, James Wright of Rutgers University, and Dennis Kent of Columbia University.

Schaller was searching for fossilized remains of Foraminifera, a tiny organism that produces a shell, when he first noticed a microtektite in the sediment he was examining. Although it is common for researchers to search for fossilized remains in PETM sediments, microtektites have not been previously detected. Schaller and his team theorize this is because microtektites are typically dark in color, and do not stand out on the black sorting tray researchers use to search for light-colored fossilized remains. Once Schaller noticed the first microtektite, the researchers switched to a white sorting tray, and began to find more.

At peak abundance, the research team found as many as three microtektites per gram of sediment examined. Microtektites are typically spherical, or tear-drop shaped, and are formed by an impact powerful enough to melt and vaporize the target area, casting molten ejecta into the atmosphere. Some microtektites from the samples contained "shocked quartz," definitive evidence of their impact origin, and exhibited microcraters or were sintered together, evidence of the speed at which they were traveling as they solidified and hit the ground.

Fireball 3

Increasing number of meteorite impacts recorded on the Moon

© NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
A new lunar crater, formed about three years ago.
Meteorites have punched at least 222 impact craters into the Moon's surface in the past 7 years. That's 33% more than researchers expected, and suggests that future lunar astronauts may need to hunker down against incoming space rocks.

"It's just something that's happening all the time," says Emerson Speyerer, an engineer at Arizona State University in Tempe and author of a 12 October paper in Nature1.

Planetary geologists will also need to rethink their understanding of the age of the lunar surface, which depends on counting craters and estimating how long the terrain has been pummelled by impacts.

Although most of the craters dotting the Moon's surface formed millions of years ago, space rocks and debris continue to create fresh pockmarks. In 2011, a team led by Ingrid Daubar of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, compared some of the first pictures taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which launched in 2009, with decades-old images taken by the Apollo astronauts.

The scientists spotted five fresh impact craters in the LRO images. Then, on two separate occasions in 2013, other astronomers using telescopes on Earth spotted bright flashes on the Moon; LRO later flew over those locations and photographed the freshly formed craters2, 3.


Meteor fireball sighted over Cyprus

© Cyprus Mail
Eyewitnesses said on Monday they saw a meteorite early in the morning, which did not appear to have crashed on the island.

An eyewitness from Nicosia said he had seen a "very bright meteorite" at 6.30am, which was travelling from east to west.

Ioannis Fakas, the honorary chairman of the Cyprus astronomical society, told the Cyprus Mail later that he had accounts from two eyewitnesses who also saw the phenomenon while driving on the highway - near Stavrovouni, in the Larnaca district, and Petra tou Romiou, near Paphos.

According to the description provided by the witnesses, the meteorite was smaller than a football and it travelled at an altitude of around one kilometre.

There were no reports of it crashing on the island.

Early last month, residents of the mountain villages of Fasoula, Avdimou and Ayios Theodoros Agros called the police reporting a bright light and loud bangs believed to have been caused by a meteorite.

Police said they received reports of explosions from the higher regions but could not find anything despite their investigations.

Parts of the meteorite were thought to have fallen into the sea north of Cyprus.

Fireball 2

Massive meteor fireball explodes over North America - Boom heard from Pennsylvania to Canada

© University of Toronto Scarborough Observatory/via Twitter
A time-lapse video caught the fireball streaking across the sky. According to social media, it was seen in the Northeast and in some Mid-Atlantic states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
An apparent meteor lit up skies in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday night, according to reports on social media.

It was spotted by skywatchers in Philadelphia, the northwest suburbs and in South Jersey, social media posts indicated.

A camera at the University of Toronto Scarborough Observatory captured the fireball on video. It released a time-lapse video on Twitter.

Comment: The American Meteor Society (AMS) received over 700 reports about a fireball seen over MI, PA, NY, OH, MD, Ontario, NJ, DC, WV, DE, MA, VA, Québec, CT, IN and VT on Wednesday, October 5th 2016 around 02:34 UT.

The fireball sightings could be one of the "top 10 events of the year" in terms of the number of received reports, according to Mike Hankey, operations manager for the AMS. "What struck me is that people from Canada to Southern Maryland saw it," Hankey added. "That means it was pretty bright."


Reports here of people hearing the accompanying shockwave.

Fireball 3

Meteor fireball image captured over Ottawa

© Scott Smithson
In this video captured by Scott Smithson, a fireball is seen streaking across the skies over Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016.
A university student captured an image of an unusual object in the skies over an Ottawa suburb.

Carleton University student Scott Smithson was walking on a trail in Kanata, Ontario, on Monday evening, when he caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a meteor streaking through the sky.

Smithson managed to take a picture of the flying fireball. While it appeared to have the characteristics of a meteor, it's possible it was something else.

A bright fireball that soared through the skies over Britain Monday night, was at first thought to be a meteor, but a U.K. meteor network said that it was moving too slowly, and might in fact be debris from a satellite.


Scotland's asteroid strike

© Society for Interdisciplinary Studies
This one is geology rather than catastrophism as a geologist is at the heart of the discovery. Channel 4 Had a TV programme about it last week which you can see if you missed it at here ...(and see also here.)

Gary Gilligan is more interested in the Torridon sandstone (which subsequently filled the projected crater) as sand is a subject close to his heart (and wherever sand pops up we have to wonder about its origin). For example, sandstones occur on top of chalk geology in southern England (sometimes known as sarsen) and these too were laid down during an upheaval of some kind (during or at the end of the Palaeogene). In the Torridons we have sandstone laid down during or shortly after an asteroid strike. Thank you for the link Gary.

The projected crater site was already classified as an unconformity - it did not fit the usual pattern. There was a gravity anomaly.

This meant a closer look and now it is thought a crater exists beneath sedimentary layers such as sandstone, arkose and shale. For an insight into what these might be, see Torridonian ... Arkose ... and Shale.

Shales are composed of mud and clay particles, Arkose is a sandstone containing 25 per cent feldspar (Arkosian sand is sand rich in feldspar) and the Torridonian formation (from the Torridon Mountains) is a name for a group of sedimentary rocks in NW Scotland, such as red and brown sandstone, shales and arkoses.

The strike site is also associated with shocked quartz and by sandstone flecked with tiny fragments of green glass. The glass represents melted rock - and the heat generated was hot enough to force the glass, or melted rock, to seep into sand grains and become rock in itself, folding them in a dramatic fashion. The shale, in turn, is thought to derive from a volcanic like mud flow - induced by the strike creating a tectonic backlash or simply by the violence of the strike itself creating the mud flow. The inference is that an object hit the ground where sand and mud was a common ingredient (quite unlike the modern landscape of the region). Of course, one could conjecture the sand came out of the bowels of the earth as a result of the strike (along with the mud flow) or arrived with the asteroid (or comet).

It is interesting to see how mainstream takes onboard such catastrophic events but continues to interpret some of the geology in purely uniformitarian terms.

Fireball 5

Meteor over Srinagar mistaken for missile attack

© Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi
The falling meteorite in Srinagar on Thursday.
Panic struck the people of Srinagar as a falling meteorite was confused for a missile, hours after India confirmed conducting surgical strikes along the border in Pakistan. Onlookers in the Jammu and Kashmir capital took the 'missile' as a retaliation in the aftermath of the border tension.

The Indian Army on Thursday organised surgical strikes targeting seven terror launch pads across the LoC overnight in which heliborne and ground forces were used. Addressing a press conference, DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said India inflicted "significant casualties" on terrorists and those who are trying to support them.

This is latest in the string of offensives India has launched against Pakistan since four attackers killed 19 soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri when they targetted the rear office of an Indian Army infantry installation on September 18. India has resorted to several diplomatic measures and vowed to internationally isolate Pakistan ever since.

Comet 2

'Lost' comet of 1915 may have been rediscovered

© YouTube/Planetary Astronomy
C/2016 R3 Borisov.
Scientists working with the Slooh observatories were able to take an image of Comet C/2016 R3, which was discovered by Russian astronomer Gennady Borisov on September 11, 2016. Since then, the comet has been too close to the sun to observe well, but Borisov and his peers think the celestial body might be one that was misplaced a century ago.

Comet C/2016 R3 was discovered by Gennady Borisov, an employee at Sternberg Astronomical Institute in Moscow, on September 11 this year. Earlier, Borisov spotted and catalogued four comets and one asteroid. He is working with observers using the Slooh global robotic observatory network.

Borisov together with Slooh member Bernd Luetkenhoener and Slooh astronomer Paul Cox have demonstrated that Comet C/2016 R3 is moving towards the sun and will reach its perihelion on October 12.


China launches world's largest FAST radio telescope: 500 meters in diameter

© Stringer / Reuters
A 500-metre (1,640-ft.) aperture spherical telescope (FAST) is seen at the final stage of construction, among the mountains in Pingtang county, Guizhou province, China
The biggest radio telescope located in China's Guizhou Province is now operational. Featuring a reflector the size of 30 football pitches, it took five years and $180 million to construct. Called the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope's (FAST), the telescope is located in a karst valley in Pingtang County, a mountainous area in southwest China.

Some 8,000 local residents were relocated to ensure a 5km radio silence zone around the facility. About $269 million were allocated to pay compensations to the villagers. The name FAST referrers to the main structure of the gigantic instrument, which has 4,450 triangular 11-meter panels and measures 500 meters in diameter. For comparison, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which held the title of world's largest radio telescope before FAST, has a 305-meter dish.

Comment: It would take a full 40 minutes for the average person to walk around the telescope.
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