Meteorite rock crashes through family’s roof

Friday April 6, 2012 1:22 AM NZT

Anne Margrethe Thomassen looks at what is thought to be a meteorite that split in two after hitting the roof of her cottage in central Oslo on March 12, 2012. The meteorite was discovered on March 1

A Norwegian family was flabbergasted to find that what appeared to be a piece of a meteorite had crashed through the roof of their allotment garden hut in the middle of Oslo.

The rock weighing 585 grams, which split in two, probably detached from a meteorite observed over Norway on March 1, experts said, and had landed on the empty hut in the Thomassen family’s allotment in a working-class neighbourhood of the Norwegian capital.

Astrophysicist Knut Joergen Roed Oedegaard and his wife Anne Mette Sannes, a meteorite enthusiast, identified the object as a breccia, or a rock composed of broken fragments of minerals or rock.

“It is a sensation in more than one way. On one hand because it is rare that a piece of meteorite goes through a roof and on the other hand because it is a breccia, which is even harder to find,” Sannes said.

She said the owners of the meteorite pieces wanted to keep them in Norway, maybe in a museum.

Meteorites speed through space and generally break up as they enter our atmosphere, but it is extremely rare for the debris to fall on inhabited areas, according to Serge Koutchmy, a researcher at the Paris Astrophysical Institute.

“This family is very lucky,” Koutchmy said.

“First off because the piece of meteorite did not cause much damage, but also because it is worth a small fortune,” he said.

A meteorite from Mars, for instance, can fetch about 5000 kroner ($850) per gram, according to geophysicist Hans Amundsen quoted on the website of the Verdens Gang newspaper, adding though that it remained unclear where the meteorite pieces that landed in Oslo came from and how rare they were.

– AFP

via Meteorite rock crashes through family’s roof – Space – NZ Herald News.

Fireball leaves area residents wondering

From staff reports
Updated 10:53 p.m., Monday, April 2, 2012

People who reported seeing a fiery ball of light in the cloudless noon sky Monday really did see an unidentified flying object.

The flying object has not been identified. But no one has conjectured that it held little green men with giant eyes.

It was likely falling space debris or a meteor, according to the National Weather Service.

“It could definitely have caused that,” said meteorologist Pat McDonald. “It’s the only thing we can think that could have caused that.”

A space rock or piece of an old satellite burning up as it hits the Earth’s atmosphere is not a rare occurrence, said Joe Wheelock, the public affairs specialist at the McDonald Observatory.

“It’s not uncommon at all,” he said.

Jane Marke, an amateur astronomer, said she was at a traffic light near the airport when she saw a bright light streaking across the eastern sky at 11:49 a.m.

“I saw a brightness of light fall from the sky, going very fast,” Marke said. “I would say it was about 1 magnitude. That’s about as bright as you can get.”

She said she believes it was a meteor, though it could have been “a piece of space junk.”

A San Antonio Express-News photographer driving between Kerrville and Comfort saw what he described as a very bright ball of light low in the sky at 11:50 a.m.

Around the same time, a 911 caller reported seeing some sort of airborne fiery object that appeared to be falling near Johns Road north of Interstate 10 in Boerne. A police officer was dispatched but didn’t find anything, a department clerk said.

Sheriff’s offices in Kendall County and Kerr County reported receiving no calls about the object.

The Army, which operates an ammunition storage and transfer facility at Camp Stanley in Northwest Bexar County, reported no unusual activity Monday morning.

“All the ranges at Camp Stanley are closed, so we weren’t testing ammunition and we haven’t had any incident today regarding the storage and transfer facilities,” said Phil Reidinger, an Army spokesman at Fort Sam Houston.

The Air Force said none of its planes at two local bases was involved in an incident that could have caused the flash.

“We don’t have anything that would generate a great flash of light in the sky,” said Dave Smith, a spokesman with the Air Education and Training Command at Randolph AFB.

For those who missed the fireball, the good news is that the Lyrid meteor shower can be seen April 21-22.

Colin McDonald, Zeke MacCormack, Sig Christenson and Scott Huddleston contributed to this report.

via Fireball leaves area residents wondering – San Antonio Express-News.

No Joke: April Fools’ Asteroid Was a Near Miss

updated 4/2/2012 1:24:22 PM ET

An asteroid the size of a passenger jet zoomed near the Earth Sunday (April 1), just in time for April Fools’ Day, but the space rock flyby posed no threat of hitting our planet, NASA officials said.

The asteroid 2012 EG5 was closer than the moon when it flew by Earth at 5:32 a.m. EDT (0932 GMT). The space rock is about 150 feet wide (46 meters), according to a NASA records. Scientists with the space agency announced the April Fools’ asteroid flyby on Friday, March 30.

“Asteroid 2012 EG5 will safely pass Earth on April 1,” scientists with NASA’s Asteroid Watch program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., wrote in a Twitter statement.

The space rock may have visited Earth on April Fools’ Day, but its flyby was no prank. The asteroid crept within 143,000 miles (230,000 kilometers) of Earth during its closest approach, which is just over half the distance between Earth and the moon’s orbit. The moon typically circles the Earth at a distance of 238,000 miles (382,900 km).

Asteroid 2012 EG5 was the third relatively small asteroid to buzz the Earth in seven days. Two smaller asteroids passed near Earth on Monday (March 26).

Early Monday, the bus-size asteroid 2012 FP35 came within 96,000 miles (154,000 km) of Earth. It was followed a few hours later by asteroid 2012 FS35, which is the size of a car and passed Earth at a range of 36,000 miles (58,000 km).

Like asteroid 2012 EG5, those two smaller space rocks on Monday posed no risk of hitting Earth. Those space rocks were so small they would not survive the trip through Earth’s atmosphere, even if they were aimed at our planet, Asteroid Watch researchers said.

Asteroid 2012 EG5 was discovered on March 13 by astronomers searching for near-Earth space rocks. Another space rock, the asteroid 2012 FA57, was discovered on March 28 and will fly by Earth on April 4 when it passes at a range just beyond the orbit of the moon.

Scientists with NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program at JPL and other teams of astronomers regularly monitor the sky for larger, potentially dangerous asteroids to determine if they pose an impact threat to Earth.

via No Joke: April Fools’ Asteroid Was a Near Miss – Technology & science – Science – DiscoveryNews.com – msnbc.com.