December 11, 2017

12.06.11: NASA’s All-Sky Sentinel Online.

One of the Droid-like cameras… (Credit: NASA).

“What was that flash in the sky last night?” 24-7, our planet is getting pelted with tons of debris. In turn, astronomers and science bloggers get pummeled by questions of what they saw flashing through the sky. Now, thanks to a new network of All-Sky Cameras put in place by NASA, we may have that data a mouse click away. Recently, NASA unveiled its All Sky Fireball network, a series of four cameras along the Alabama-Georgia-Tennessee border that give continuous coverage of the sky watching for meteors and potential meteorites. [Read more...]

19.05.11: “Incoming!” Meteorite Strikes House in Polish Town.

X Marks the Soltmany Fall. (Credit: CIA World Factbook).

Ahhhh… nothing makes the astro-news like a “House-strikes-space rock” story. Amid many dubious claims of low-flying rocks heard over the Chesapeake and striking lawns in New Jersey over the past few weeks, a quiet but amazing story of a meteorite strike came our way from “across the pond…” [Read more...]

12.05.11: New Cosmic Minerals Part II.

A view of Krotite. (Credit: university of Hawaii/American Mineralogist).

Faster than you can say carbonaceous chondrite, another new meteorite-bound mineral was recently announced from the University of Hawaii. Readers of this space will remember the recent discovery of Wassonite last month. Now, enter Krotite, a low-pressure refractory inclusion with a chemical composition of CaAl2O4. [Read more...]

12.04.11: The Weigh-in on Wassonite.

A sliver of Wassonite… (Credit: NASA/JSC).

Sometimes, it pays to go back and take a peek at old samples with new equipment. Recently, NASA scientists working in collaboration with South Korean and Japanese researchers have announced the discovery of Wassonite (rhymes with the fictional Kryptonite!) a mineral with a crystalline structure and composition unseen on Earth. The sample comes from a meteorite dubbed Yamato 691, an enstatite chondrite recovered from the Antarctic continent in 1969. [Read more...]

03.11.09:A Mars Rock in 3-D!

Break out those cheesy 3-D glasses… a few weeks back we reported on a new meteorite discovered on the surface of Mars. Opportunity spotted the out-of-place stone on July 18th of this year, and NASA engineers rerouted the rover for a closer look. Named Block Island, it isn’t the first extraterrestrial rock discovered on Mars, but weighing in at an estimated 650 pounds, its the largest found to date. Beyond looking cool, 3-D anaglyphs actually serve the purpose of allowing engineers to interpret what the rover sees. Another interesting fact gleaned from this new Mars space rock is that it suggests that the earlier Martian atmosphere had to have been thicker to cushion the incoming meteor and form the ablation pits we see today. Enjoy!

06.10.09: A Martian Meteorite: The Sequel?

Less than two months after its first record breaking find, NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity has discovered what appears to be a second true rarity; another meteorite on Mars. Far surpassing their original 3 month primary missions, the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity have exceeded all expectations and are now in their fifth year of operations on the Red Planet. They have been hobbled by software problems, dust storms, and gimp wheels, but these spunky robots refuse to die. Opportunity was rolling across Meridiani Planum en route to Endeavor Crater about seven miles distant when it first spotted and analyzed the 2-foot long rock now dubbed Block Island, the first extraterrestrial rock positively identified on another world. Now, on October 1st researchers have spotted another rock that looks decidedly out of place on the martian landscape; dubbed Shelter Island, this pitted stone is about 18” inches long and also exhibits a smooth polished surface. Of course, the presence of two meteor falls this close together raises the question; are the two stones related? Or are “Martian meteorites” more common than we might presume? Stay tuned!