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Tue, 03 Oct 2023
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Fireball 5

Laughable - NASA announces asteroid 'Grand Challenge'

NASA announced Tuesday a Grand Challenge focused on finding all asteroid threats to human populations and knowing what to do about them. The challenge, which was announced at an asteroid initiative industry and partner day at NASA Headquarters in Washington, is a large-scale effort that will use multi-disciplinary collaborations and a variety of partnerships with other government agencies, international partners, industry, academia, and citizen scientists. It complements NASA's recently announced mission to redirect an asteroid and send humans to study it.

"NASA already is working to find asteroids that might be a threat to our planet, and while we have found 95 percent of the large asteroids near the Earth's orbit, we need to find all those that might be a threat to Earth," said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. "This Grand Challenge is focused on detecting and characterizing asteroids and learning how to deal with potential threats. We will also harness public engagement, open innovation and citizen science to help solve this global problem."

Grand Challenges are ambitious goals on a national or global scale that capture the imagination and demand advances in innovation and breakthroughs in science and technology. They are an important element of President Obama's Strategy for American Innovation.


Huge earth-passing asteroid an 'entirely new beast'

© Arecibo Observatory/NASA/Ellen Howell
Radar image of asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon taken on June 7, 2013, by the Arecibo Observatory. Several craters are visible on the asteroid, and the moon appears as a bright streak. Each pixel is 7.5 meters (25 feet).
A big asteroid that flew past Earth last month belongs to a new category of space rock, scientists say.

Asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon sailed within 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers) of Earth on May 31, making their closest approach to our planet for at least the next two centuries. New radar images captured by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico are revealing just how unique this binary asteroid is, researchers say.

"Asteroid QE2 is dark, red, and primitive - that is, it hasn't been heated or melted as much as other asteroids," Arecibo's Ellen Howell said in a statement. "QE2 is nothing like any asteroid we've visited with a spacecraft, or plan to, or that we have meteorites from. It's an entirely new beast in the menagerie of asteroids near Earth."

The 1000-foot-wide (305 meters) Arecibo dish and NASA's 230-foot (70 m) Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif., tracked 1998 QE2 as it approached Earth last month, then kept following the near-Earth asteroid as it receded into the depths of space.

The resulting radar images have helped researchers take 1998 QE2's measure. The dark, cratered main asteroid is 1.9 miles (3 km) wide, and it has a 2,500-foot (750 m) moon that orbits it once every 32 hours.

Fireball 3

Norwegian geologist believed to have found large meteorite

Terje Fjeldheim, a geologist who acknowledges that he "knows a bit about rocks," was out fishing in the mountains of Setesdal, southern Norway, when he stumbled upon what's believed to be a meteorite weighing four-and-a-half kilos. That would make it the largest meteorite found in Norway in the last 100 years.

"It was so different that it immediately started ringing some bells," Fjeldheim told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Friday.

Fjeldheim's discovery has sparked excitement among astrophysicists and Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard, Norway's celebrity astronomer and meteorite expert, was "ecstatic," according to Fjeldheim. Rune Selbekk of the Museum of Natural History in Oslo has only seen Fjeldheim's photos so far, but said his "gut feeling" is good.

"I get around 2,000 to 3,000 samples every year," Selbekk told NRK. "When something authentic comes in, it offsets all the disappointments."

The last time a bigger meteorite was found in Norway was in the far northern city of Alta in 1902. Before that, Tysnes in 1884, reported NRK. Only a bit more than a dozen meteorites have been found in Norway, with one of the most recent ones crashing through the roof of a holiday cabin in Oslo just last year.

Fjeldheim was due to bring the meteorite in to the museum Friday afternoon and have it evaluated. It may be worth as much as NOK 225,000, should he decide to sell it.


More exploding houses? Westminster, Colorado house explosion linked to natural gas

Monique Gallegos was inside her Westminster home Thursday when a nearby explosion staggered her. Windows blew out, a ceiling fan was dislodged, crashing into the dining room, and a framed photo or art piece flew off the wall and smashed Gallegos in the back.

"I thought a plane had crashed, or it was a bomb, a terrorist," Gallegos recalled as she waited Thursday afternoon to get the OK to return to her home in the 9200 block of Ingalls Street.
© Andy Cross, The Denver Post
A natural gas explosion in Westminster destroyed four houses June 13, 2013.
Gallegos quickly got her mother, Arleen Gallegos, 70, out of the house, and along with other neighbors, they watched, stunned, as debris, materials from homes - pieces of rooftop shingles, splintered siding, insulation - continued to land in the street.11:35 a.m. a home on the 9300 block of Ingalls Street exploded, reduced to a pile of rubble and making the cul-de-sac it occupied look like part of a war zone. A second home also sustained heavy damage and several surrounding homes, like Gallegos', were damaged, as well.

Westminster firefighter Courtney VanMarter was among the first on the scene. She encountered a house that had been leveled, with lots of debris and blown out windows. She described the scene as reminiscent of a tornado.

"Truly there is not a whole let left in this house," VanMarter said. "It's quite shocking."

Additional Images

Fireball 5

Bright meteor lights up Eastern coast of Australia

A meteorite may have been spotted crashing to earth this evening.
There have been multiple reports of a bright burning light in the sky over Toowoomba and the Darling Downs last night.

Witnesses reported seeing a bright white ball falling to earth about 6pm. It is understood the object may have been a meteor or space junk.

Several people contacted The Chronicle this morning to report the sighting.

On Facebook, witnesses spoke of a "spectacular" light display that at first appeared to be a shooting star.
  • Shallon Garton: "I saw what I thought was a shooting star but way bigger driving back to Highfields from Esk."
  • Stuart Shields: "Yes, saw it on my way home from Highfields last night was pretty spectacular."
  • Christine Walker: "We saw it here in the Lockyer Valley just after dark. No time to grab the camera though"
There have also been reports of a bright light or flashes over the Sunshine Coast and the mid north NSW coast.

Fireball 4

City-destroying asteroid flashes Earth with just one day's notice

Asteroid 2013 LR6
© JPL Small Body Database
Orbit diagram of Asteroid 2013 LR6.
A truck-sized asteroid just discovered yesterday (Thursday, June 6) will give Earth a relatively close shave later today/early tomorrow, depending on your time zone. Asteroid 2013 LR6 is somewhere between 5- 16 meters (16 to 54 feet) in diameter and will be flying by at only about 111,000 kilometers (69,000 mi, 0.29x Lunar Distances) from Earth at 4:43UTC/12:43AM EDT on June 8, 2013.

This is similar in size to the space rock that exploded over Russia back in February of this year. The Russian asteroid was about 15 meters (50 feet) in diameter before it exploded in an airburst event about 20-25 km (12-15 miles) above Earth's surface.

Find out how you can watch the flyby live online, below.


Mystery boom shakes residents of Sharon, Pennsylvania

Mercer County - Memorial Day weekend started out "relatively quiet" for police, except for another mysterious "sonic boom."

At 7:29 p.m. Friday, the explosion rocked Shenango Township. A resident in the 3500 block of Hubbard-West Middlesex Road heard "a loud sonic boom," a Mercer County 911 dispatcher said. The caller told the 911 operator "it shook the house; it was not like a transformer blew.

"All of the neighbors came outside to see what happened, so many people felt it."

Southwest Mercer County Regional police were dispatched, but could not find anything.

It was the second such incident reported in as many weeks. On May 13, dozens of callers from Mercer to Sandy Lake to Grove City reported hearing a "massive explosion" at about 9 p.m. Officials have not been able to explain the noise.

The 911 dispatcher said "typical holiday weekend" calls were from all over Mercer County. Early Friday, an alleged "streaker" shocked some callers from Sharon. Later Friday, a reported gas leak near Lake Latonka was cleared up by 11:45 p.m.

At about 5 p.m. Saturday, a kid in a "black hoodie" gave Sharon police a run for their money over "some minor crime."

A couple of hours later, there was a report of a burglary on Tamarack Drive in South Pymatuning Township. About 8 p.m., police in Hermitage responded to a hit-and-run accident with no apparent injuries.


A plane mystery: Passenger jet makes emergency landing after being hit by unidentified 'foreign object' at 26,000 feet

© Unknown
A passenger jet has been forced to make an emergency landing after an unidentified “foreign object” smashed into its nose cone at 26,000 feet
A passenger jet has been forced to make an emergency landing, after an unidentified "foreign object" smashed into its nose cone at 26,000 feet.

A large dent and scraped paintwork was visible on the Air China Boeing 757 after it landed safely at Chengdu Airport, having been forced to turn back after the pilot said he was struggling to control the plane.

Click here for more images of the damaged aircraft

Investigators are said to be baffled by the dent, reportedly ruling out a bird strike as no blood or feathers were seen around the impact site, but insisting traces of whatever caused the damage are likely to be found under closer inspection.

The plane was flying at around 26,000 feet, climbing over China 20 minutes after take-off during an internal flight between Chengdu and Guangzhou, when passengers are said to have heard a loud bang.
© Unknown
A large dent and scraped paintwork was visible on the Air China Boeing 757 after it landed safely at Chengdu Airport
At the time the pilot is thought to have been unaware of the damage, but contacted air traffic control to report stability issues shortly after hearing the noise.

He was instructed to return to Chengdu, where the damaged nosecone was seen and photographed by passengers disembarking the aircraft.

Comment: No mystery here. Just go over articles in the Fire in the Sky category to get an idea.

Comet 2

New Comet: C/2013 J6 (Catalina)

Discovery: Date May 9, 2013

Magnitude: 19.3 mag

Discoverer: R. A. Kowalski (Catalina Sky Survey)

C/2013 J6
© Aerith Net
Magnitudes Graph
The orbital elements are published on M.P.E.C. 2013-K31.

Fireball 4

Rare meteor shower may 'outburst' on June 11

Rare Meteor Shower_1
© Stellarium
The rare and rarely heard of meteor shower called the Gamma Delphinids will appear to radiate from the constellation Delphinus (del-FINE-us) the Dolphin high in the southern sky shortly before dawn tomorrow morning June 11. This map shows the sky facing south at 3:30 a.m. local time. Delphinus is near the bottom of the bright 3-star figure the Summer Triangle.
Back on June 11, 1930 three members of the American Meteor Society (AMS) in Maryland saw a half-hour-long bright outburst of meteors from the little constellation Delphinus the Dolphin. No one had predicted the shower, but it came out of nowhere and hasn't been seen since. Attempts to catch a repeat performance in subsequent years met with no success.

That may change tomorrow morning, June 11, 2013. Peter Jenniskins, research scientist with the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center, has examined dust outbursts from long-period comets and suggests the Gamma Delphinids may return for a brief moment of splendor, as Earth passes through this stream of cometary debris not seen since 1930.