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Tue, 25 Feb 2020
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Fireball 5

Nuke sensors detect asteroid explosion in the atmosphere over the Caribbean

Asteroid Explosion
© William Straka III/University of Wisconsin
On June 22nd at 21:25 UT, a small asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere and exploded in broad daylight south of Puerto Rico. Airwaves recorded by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization's infrasound station in Bermuda pegged the blast energy between 3 and 5 kilotons of TNT-a fraction of a WW II atomic bomb. The explosion was clearly visible in images from NOAA's GOES-16 weather satellite:

Meteor expert Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario says the infrasound signal is consistent with a "small multi-meter sized near-Earth asteroid." According to data compiled by NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies, asteroids of this size and energy hit Earth's atmosphere about once a year. That means it's rare-but not exceptionally so.

Comet 2

ESA puts comet mission on fast track

Montezuma observing a comet.
© DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI/Getty Images
A sixteenth century illustration showing Montezuma observing a comet. The European Space Agency has a different plan.
Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) are working on a new "fast" mission to make the first flyby of a pristine comet - meaning one that has never before passed close to the sun.

Since the first comet mission, all the way back in 1978, numerous space agencies have made more than a dozen comet flybys, including one rendezvous and landing.

But never before has a mission attempted to visit a comet on its first plunge toward the sun, when its never-before-heated surface is almost unchanged from when it formed at the dawn of the solar system, some 4.5 billion years ago.

The recently approved mission, called Comet Interceptor, will also be unique in what it does as it nears its target.

Rather than simply flying by, it will split into four parts, each of which will whizz past the comet on a slightly different trajectory.

Three of these will be tiny instrument packages, which will view the comet from different angles. This will allow scientists back on Earth to create detailed 3D models not only of its surface, but of the gas, dust, and plasma surrounding it.

The fourth will be the mother ship, which will collect data from the smaller probes and relay it back to Earth.

"It's a novel concept," says Fabio Favata, head of the Strategy, Planning, and Coordination Office in ESA's Directorate of Science.

Details of the mission have yet to be determined, but the use of the word "fast" in its description doesn't mean it will be traveling at warp speed.


Meteor fireball sends shockwaves over Queensland, Australia

Weather monitoring cameras have captured the moment a meteor exploded over Queensland, Australia on Saturday night (June 22)

According to the operator of the cameras, the blast at 10 pm sent shockwaves towards the Brisbane area.

A second camera showed the blast lighting the sky green above homes in the city of Ipswich.

Fireball 2

Meteor fireball seen over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New York and New Jersey

Fireball over PA
© Christoper S.
On June 8, 2019, over 30 reports were received by the American Meteor Society of a fireball seen in six northeast US states. Christoper S. in Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania captured the meteor on his security camera:

Fireball 2

Reports of meteor fireball seen over west Texas

Fireball over Hawley, TX
© Kevin P.
The American Meteor Society received 4 reports of a fireball over west Texas on June 15, 2019. Kevin P. filmed the meteor as it flew over Hawley:

Fireball 4

Meteor fireball flying over the Ozarks in Arkansas captured on skycam

Fireball over the Ozarks, AR
© YouTube/Lost In The Ozarks
On June 10, 2019, The American Meteor Society received two reports of a fireball over the Ozark Mountains in northern Arkansas. The meteor was also visible in southwest Missouri. William M.'s Allsky camera in Marshall, Arkansas captured the event:

Fireball 3

Meteor fireball seen flying over Flagstaff, Arizona

Fireball over Flagstaff, AZ
© Spalding Allsky Camera Network S.
The American Meteor Society received 2 reports of a fireball over Flagstaff, Arizona on June 11, 2019. Spalding Allsky Camera Network S. was able to film footage of the event:


Meteor fireball soars over Qujing in China's Yunnan province

Fireball over Qujing, China
© Yaolei W.
On June 8, 2019, the American Meteor Society received a report of a meteor seen over of China's Yunnan province. Y. Wang caught video of the fireball as it flew over Qujing:

Fireball 2

Bright meteor fireball filmed on June 15 over the province of Toledo, Spain

Fireball - stock image

Stock image
This bright meteor overflew Toledo and Madrid on 2019 June 15 at 3:48 local time (equivalent to 1:48 universal time). It was generated by a rock from an asteroid that hit the atmosphere at about 80,000 km/h. It began over the province of Toledo at an altitude of about 86 km, and ended at a height of around 39 km over Madrid.

The event was recorded in the framework of the SMART project (University of Huelva), operated by the Southwestern Europe Meteor Network (SWEMN), from the meteor-observing stations located at La Hita (Toledo), and Sevilla.

Fireball 4

Dashcam captures spectacular meteor fireball in Canberra, Australia

Fireball over Canberra, Australia
© Germaine Muller
If you looked skywards on Thursday and thought you saw a flash of blue light up the night sky, you weren't imagining it.

Canberra was treated to a spectacular meteor display late on Thursday, just after 10pm, with many capturing the spectacle on camera.

While it looked large, Australian National University astronomy professor Dr Brad Tucker said the meteor itself was relatively small.

"It was probably between 20 and 50 centimetres in size. It was a relatively small meteor, it just appears very bright," Dr Tucker said.

"The blue-green colour that everyone saw was because these meteors are mostly iron and nickel, and when it melts as it burns up in the atmosphere, it burns that colour.