October 23, 2014

28.10.09:Near Earth Shenanigans.

Near Earth Objects (NEOs) have been in the news as of late, perhaps as a prelude to Halloween. First, we woke up the morning of the 17th to a near miss of 2009 TM8, an asteroid about 10 meters in diameter that passed 90% the distance of the Moon. Then just yesterday, astronomers announced that they are tracking an unknown object tentatively named 9U01FF6 that is currently in an elongated 31 day orbit about the Earth. In all likelihood, this is probably a recaptured piece of Apollo hardware; many boosters are now in Earth-crossing orbits about the Sun. But wouldn’t it be cool if we had a second natural Moon? Now, a report has come to light out of Indonesia of a possible bolide earlier this month. The video embedded above depicts a smoke trail consistent with a large meteor entering Earth’s atmosphere. The event occurred at around 03:00 UT (11:00 AM local) on October 8th; its rather mysterious that in this Age of Twitter, the report took more than two weeks to surface! Trust me, “remote” locales such as Southeast Asia are more hooked up in terms of wireless technology than much of the rural US…The event also set off 11 stations of the International Monitoring System, which gauges the atmosphere for violations of the nuclear test ban treaty. The asteroid suspect is estimated to have been 5-10 meters in diameter and produced a yield of about 30-50 kilotons. In contrast, the Fat Man atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki was only a yield of 21 kilotons. The event was offshore and very near the coastal town of Bone, and was witnessed and recorded by the villagers as seen above. Events like this are estimated to happen once every 2-10 years, and lend credence to the hypothesis that a fairly large impactor may come in with no warning at all. And no, Virginia, this doesn’t appear to be a Latvian crater hoax this time around!