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Asteroids and Meteorites Current Events


A Shower of Comet Particles for Mars?
April 1, 2014 | NASA

Comet Sliding Spring will pass very close to Mars when it approaches the planet in October 2014. It will produce a shower of particles as it flies by the planet could threaten orbiting spacecraft. There is a tiny chance that it could hit Mars.

NASA: Capturing an Asteroid?
March 27, 2014 | NASA

“NASA is developing an Asteroid Redirect Mission — a first-ever mission to identify, capture and redirect an asteroid to a safe orbit of Earth’s moon for future exploration by astronauts in the 2020s.”

A New Dwarf Planet?
March 27, 2014 | NASA

“Scientists using ground based observatories have discovered an object that is believed to have the most distant orbit found beyond the known edge of our solar system. Named 2012 VP113, the object is possibly a dwarf planet. [...] A dwarf planet is an object in orbit around the sun that is large enough to have its own gravity pull itself into a spherical, or nearly round, shape.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

An Asteroid with Rings??
March 27, 2014 | NASA

“Observations at many sites in South America, including ESO’s La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Crowdsourcing Geological Tasks?
March 20, 2014 | University of Colorado Boulder

“As a group, volunteer counters who examined a particular patch of lunar real estate using NASA images did just as well in identifying individual craters as professional crater counters with five to 50 years of experience.”

Astronomers: Win $35000 From NASA
March 18, 2014 | NASA

“NASA’s Asteroid Data Hunter contest series will offer $35,000 in awards over the next six months to citizen scientists who develop improved algorithms that can be used to identify asteroids.”

Related: Google Map of Asteroid Impacts

Colliding Comets
March 16, 2014 | NASA

“Astronomers exploring the disk of gas and dust around a nearby star have uncovered a compact cloud of poisonous gas formed by ongoing rapid-fire collisions among a swarm of icy, comet-like bodies. The researchers suggest the comet swarm is either the remnant of a crash between two icy worlds the size of Mars or frozen debris trapped and concentrated by the gravity of an as-yet-unseen planet.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Introduction to Meteorites
March 13, 2014 | Geology.com

Here we have the first in a series of articles by Geoffrey Notkin that provide an introduction to meteorites.

Martian Meteorites on Earth
March 13, 2014 | National Geographic

Researchers believe that the shergottite meteorites found on Earth may have originated from an impact that created the Mojave Crater on Mars.

Artistic image by NASA
Lunar Impact and Afterglow Visible for 8 Seconds
March 2, 2014 | Nature

The impact of a large object onto the lunar surface in September, 2013 produced a flash and an afterglow that was bright enough to have been seen from Earth with the unaided eye for about eight seconds. The flash was the result of the tremendous impact speed generating enough heat to melt the target and impactor

Spectacular New Crater and Ejecta on Mars
February 6, 2014 | NASA.gov

“Space rocks hitting Mars excavate fresh craters at a pace of more than 200 per year, but few new Mars scars pack as much visual punch as one seen in a NASA image released today.” Quoted from the NASA press release (February 5, 2014).

Natural Hazards of 2013
February 2, 2014 | USGS

USGS has a short review of how a variety of natural hazards influenced the United States during calendar year 2013.

First Mission to Land a Probe on a Comet
January 28, 2014 | NASA

“Three NASA science instruments are being prepared for check-out operations aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, which is set to become the first to orbit a comet and land a probe on its nucleus in November.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Surprise White Rock on Mars
January 23, 2014 | NASA

While preparing to start robotic arm work on the target “Cape Elizabeth” on Sol 3541 (Jan. 8, 2014), Opportunity encountered a slight surprise — a rock had appeared in the images that had not been there before. This target that has been named “Pinnacle Island” and its origin has been the target of much speculation.

First Meteor Shower of 2014 Peaks Friday
January 5, 2014 | Christian Science Monitor

The Quadrantid meteor shower is expected to peak on Friday afternoon in the United States, but people in other parts of the world might see 60 to 120 meteors per hour. People in the United States might see a few meteors before sunrise and after sunset.

Related: What Causes a Meteor Shower?

Artistic image by NASA
Clay Minerals and a Collision with Europa?
December 15, 2013 | NASA

“A new analysis of data from NASA’s Galileo mission has revealed clay-type minerals at the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa that appear to have been delivered by a spectacular collision with an asteroid or comet. This is the first time such minerals have been detected on Europa’s surface. The types of space rocks that deliver such minerals typically also often carry organic materials.”

Related: Life on Europa?

Pennsylvania Meteorites
December 9, 2013 | Pennsylvania Geological Survey

The Fall 2013 issue of Pennsylvania Geology has an article about meteorites that have been found in Pennsylvania.

Most Popular Items for November
December 2, 2013 | Geology.com

The World’s Largest Emerald Mine

What is Iris Agate?

New Volcanic Island Southeast of Japan

The Enormous Volcanic Eruption that Historians Never Recorded

A Super River from the Southwestern United States to the Labrador Sea?

Typhoon Haiyan Images

Comet Ison is Visible to the Naked Eye

New Super Predator Dinosaur

Comet ISON Obituary
December 1, 2013 | NBC News

“I do think that something emerged from the sun, but probably a very small nucleus or ‘rubble pile.’ and I fear that may have now dissolved.” Karl Battams, an astrophysicist at the Naval Research Laboratory.

Comet Ison is Visible to the Naked Eye
November 21, 2013 | The Telegraph

“Comet Ison, first spotted a year ago, is now visible to the naked eye and will continue to brighten as it hurtles toward the sun.”

First Known Zircon from Mars
November 21, 2013 | The Australian

“An analysis of one of the 70-odd Martian meteorites discovered so far, a chunk of rock found several years ago by Bedouins in the Sahara Desert, has revealed the first known fragments of zircon from the red planet.” Quoted from The Australian press release.

Related: Meteorite Articles

Bedrock Map of Vesta Asteroid
November 11, 2013 |

“This colorized map from NASA’s Dawn mission shows the types of rocks and minerals distributed around the surface of the giant asteroid Vesta. In this color scheme, red shows diogenite, a type of mineral thought to be formed through magmatic processes deep in the crust. Green shows howardite, a type of surface rock that is made of broken bits of different materials that are excavated, ejected and mixed by meteor impacts…..” Partial quote from the NASA image description.

An Asteroid with Six Comet-Like Tails
November 11, 2013 | NASA

“This NASA Hubble Space Telescope set of images reveals a never-before-seen set of six comet-like tails radiating from a body in the asteroid belt, designated P/2013 P5.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

NASA Describes the Chelyabinsk Meteoroid Event
November 10, 2013 | NASA

NASA has a short article that describes the Chelyabinsk Meteoroid Event. Two interesting paragraphs from their article….

Jenniskens and Popova calculated the impact speed of the meteor at 42,500 mph. As the meteor penetrated through the atmosphere, it efficiently fragmented into pieces, peaking at 19 miles above the surface. At that point the light of the meteor appeared brighter than the sun, even for people 62 miles away.

Due to the extreme heat, many of the pieces of the debris vaporized before falling out of the orange glowing debris cloud. Scientists believe that between 9,000 to 13,000 pounds of meteorites fell to the ground. This included one fragment approximately 1,400 pound recovered from Lake Chebarkul on October 16, 2013, by professional divers guided by Ural Federal University researchers.

Related: Meteorite Articles

Meteorites from Mars
October 19, 2013 | UPI

“NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars has found evidence confirming some meteors found on Earth did in fact come from the Red Planet. Quoted from the UPI article.

Related: Meteorite Articles

1000 Pound Fragment of the Chelyabinsk Meteorite?
October 17, 2013 | RT.com

Divers have recovered several pieces of what they believe is the Chelyabinsk meteorite from a lake in the Ural Mountains.

First Evidence for a Comet Striking Earth
October 8, 2013 | University of Witwatersrand

“The first ever evidence of a comet entering Earth’s atmosphere and exploding, raining down a shock wave of fire which obliterated every life form in its path, has been discovered by a team of South African scientists and international collaborators.” Quoted from the University of Witwatersrand press release.

Monday Evening Meteor Shower
October 6, 2013 | USA Today

Just after sunset on Monday night (October 7th) is the best time for observing the Draconids meteor shower. If you have a clear sky the moon should not interfere.

Images and Data from an Asteroid Visit
September 29, 2013 | NASA

In 2011 and 2012, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbited the giant asteroid Vesta. This was an opportunity for researchers to get close-up observations to compare with the information they obtained from ground and satellite observations. They now have an article titled: “Dawn Reality-Checks Telescope Studies of Asteroids“.

What Killed the Mammoths?
September 11, 2013 | National Geographic

What killed the mammoths and other large mammals about 12,900 years ago? Was it humans, climate or an impact event? National Geographic has an article that explores the possibilities.

Cause of the Younger Dryas Cooling?
September 9, 2013 | Scientific American

Although they face disagreement a group of researchers believe that an asteroid impact in Canada about 11,600 to 12,900 years ago caused the Younger Dryas cooling.

WISE to Hunt Asteroids Again
August 27, 2013 | NASA

“The WISE spacecraft that discovered and characterized tens of thousands of asteroids throughout the solar system before being placed in hibernation will return to service for three more years starting in September, assisting the agency in its effort to identify the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Decorah Impact Crater
August 26, 2013 | EarthMagazine.org

Researchers have confirmed a 470-million-year-old impact crater near the town of Decorah, Iowa using multiple types of evidence.

Related: Google Map of Impact Sites

Perseids Meteor Shower Peaks August 11 to 13
August 11, 2013 | National Geographic

National Geographic has published a guide for observing the Perseids meteor shower which peaks between August 11 and 13.

Olympic Gold Plus Meteoritic Iron
July 29, 2013 | Gizmondo.com

Some of the gold medals awarded at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will contain pieces of the meteorite that fell over Russia on February 15, 2013. Only gold medals awarded on the one-year anniversary of the fall will contain a piece of the meteorite.

Related: What are Meteorites?

An Asteroid With a Moon?
June 9, 2013 | NASA

1998 QE2 is a binary asteroid. That means an object is orbiting the asteroid – it has a “moon”.

Most Popular May 16 to May 31
June 4, 2013 | Geology.com

When Did Plate Tectonics Begin?

Large Impact on the Moon

Mount St. Helens – 33 Years

Popocatepetl Eruption

History of the Prime Meridian

The Orphan Tsunami of 1700

Lunar Gravity Mystery Solved?
June 2, 2013 | NASA

NASA’s GRAIL mission has solved one of the mysteries of the Moon. “Why is the Moon’s gravity is uneven?… It appears that asteroid impacts have created patches of very high density rock in the subsurface.

Close Encounter with a Big Asteroid on May 31
May 22, 2013 | NASA

Earth’s May 31 “close call” with a 1.7 mile-wide asteroid has radio astronomers excited. Fortunately it is going to miss Earth by over 3 million miles.

“Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid’s distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise.”

Large Impact on the Moon
May 19, 2013 | NASA

“For the past 8 years, NASA astronomers have been monitoring the Moon for signs of explosions caused by meteoroids hitting the lunar surface. [...] They’ve just seen the biggest explosion in the history of the program.”

Why are We Seeing So Many Sungrazing Comets?
May 8, 2013 | NASA on YouTube

As recently as 1979, astronomers only knew about 12 sungrazing coments. Now they have discovered about 2500.

Most Popular April 16 to April 30
May 1, 2013 | Geology.com

Diamonds Do Not Form From Coal

The Falling Gold Price

What is a Maar?

Monitoring the Fire Below Yellowstone

Capturing an Asteroid

Giant Snails Invade Florida

Bingham Canyon Mine Landslide

Measuring the Size of Explosive Volcanic Eruptions

Meteors Hitting the Rings of Saturn
April 29, 2013 | NASA

“NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has provided the first direct evidence of small meteoroids breaking into streams of rubble and crashing into Saturn’s rings.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Comet of the Century
April 29, 2013 | Hubble Site

“Comet ISON is potentially the “comet of the century” because around the time the comet makes its closest approach to the Sun, on November 28, it may briefly become brighter than the full Moon.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Capturing an Asteroid
April 18, 2013 | NASA

“NASA’s FY2014 budget proposal includes a plan to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable lunar orbit where astronauts can visit and explore it. The proposed mission would combine the efforts of three NASA mission directorates: Human Exploration and Operations, Science and Space Technology.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

The Asteroid Sensor
April 16, 2013 | NASA

“An infrared sensor that could improve NASA’s future detecting and tracking of asteroids and comets has passed a critical design test.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Capturing an Asteroid?
April 14, 2013 | NASA

“The mission to find, capture and redirect an asteroid robotically, and then visit it with astronauts to study it and return samples takes advantage of expertise across all of NASA in an integrated approach to exploration.” Quoted from the NASA budget request announcement.

A Meteorite from Mercury?
April 4, 2013 | The Space Reporter

A green meteorite found in Morocco is believed to have originated either from the planet Mercury or from an unknown body in the solar system.

Colorado Impact Crater?
March 31, 2013 | Colorado Geological Survey on Facebook

The Colorado Geological Survey shares a aerial photo of a bowl-shaped feature with a distinct rim that is about 110 meters across. Could it be an impact structure?

Decorah Impact Structure
March 18, 2013 | University of Iowa

“Recent airborne geophysical surveys near Decorah, Iowa are providing an unprecedented look at a 470- million-year-old meteorite crater concealed beneath bedrock and sediments. [...] The extent of the shale, which was deposited after the impact by an ancient seaway, defines a “nice circular basin” of 5.5 km width.” Quoted from the University of Iowa press release.

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