Remember the Chelyabinsk meteor
that exploded over Russia earlier this year, injuring hundreds and giving us dozens of spectacular dashcam videos? It may have friends
Jupiter has lots. Mars has some, too, as does Neptune. Turns out Earth's got a trojan asteroid
of its own. Meet 2010 TK7
, the blue planet's new baby brother.
Discovered just last night by the Catalina Sky Survey
at Mount Lemmon Observatory
, asteroid 2008 TC
will enter the upper atmosphere (and should explode spectacularly) over Northern Sudan in around 30 minutes.
has an interesting article
about the high probability of "space rocks" hitting the earth, possibly as high as a 1 in 10 chance of a major catastrophe each century. Not a new theme, but the article has some new developments suggesting it is more common than once thought. Includes a 10 minute video.
An interactive map of the 174 major meteor impact craters.
The largest crater we know of is the Vredefort Dome
in South Africa, caused by a meteor some 10 km in diameter. Almost as large in the Sudbury Structure
, located in Ontario, which contains some of the world's richest nickel and copper reserves, and has been only confirmed recently
to be a crater. Third largest is the now-famous Chicxulub
crater in the Yucatan, which probably killed the dinosaurs
. Then take a look at an animation of asteroids near Earth [animated gif]
and the list of minor planets that could hit us
. Want to find out what happens when an meteor impacts in your area? Use the handy Earth Impacts Effects Program
NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory recently detected
[reg required] the largest explosion ever detected in the universe: an eruption releasing the energy of hundreds of millions of gamma ray bursts
. Just to put it in perspective, a single GRB
releases enough radiation to wipe out
just about everything human beings would require for survival in a 1000 light year radius. (The Milky Way spans ~100,000 light years, while the United Federation of Planets
spans about 8,000). Arthur C. Clarke has gone so far as suggesting that GRBs might be one of the reasons for Extra-Terrestrial silence: Gamma Ray Bursts
are so large and inescapable, a single one would wipe out even an enormous galactic empire. Makes killer asteroids
seem downright quaint
Near Earth Objects
A newly discovered 1.2 km wide asteroid has been given a Torino hazard rating of 1. Astronomers will continue to observe the space rock carefully to determine its orbit more accurately. [link via BBC Radio 5]
An asteroid the size of a football field
just missed the Earth last Friday. Coming in fast out of the sun, where we ain't watching, it missed us by an astro-paltry 75,000 miles (a third the distance to the Moon). If it had hit, the impact would have been about 10 megatons -- not a planet-killer, but enough to spoil your picnic.
In related news, Attorney General Ashcroft arrested a box of moon rocks and the entire staff of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA for questioning. The director of the Office of Orbital Security was at a pro-am golf tournament in Fond du Lac, WI and unavailable for a statement.
But wouldn't this have made a big dent in the middle east peace process?
NEAR shoemaker lands and survives.
The NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft touched down on a barren space rock called Eros on Monday, in history’s first attempt to land an object on an asteroid. Scientists said the probe still appeared to be sending signals back to Earth after making contact, hinting that the car-sized probe survived the descent. The speed at impact was between 1.5-1.8 m/s. This marks the first time that a US spacecraft was the first to land on another body of the solar system. And, if the server is back up, it's worth checking out the project's website
Lucifer's Hammer... misses.
Well, ok, maybe it was only his tack-hammer, but the people in London would have hated it... [scroll down to second story]