New Tunguska Crater Found?

Jul 05, 2007

A team of Italian scientists has announced seismic evidence of what could be meteor fragments beneath Lake Cheko in Siberia–the first “solid evidence” of a Tunguska asteroid.


Lake Cheko in the Siberian region of Tunguska has recently emerged as a candidate for an “impact site” linked to the famous Tunguska explosion of 1908. Credit: www-th.bo.infn.it/tunguska / University of Bologna

On June 30, 1908, a massive explosion detonated in the skies over Tunguska in northern Siberia. The resulting shock wave flattened some 60 million trees across 2000 square kilometers. The blast was heard hundreds of miles away and the cloud of dust colored the skies of the Northern Hemisphere for months afterwards.

The first expedition to investigate the region could not locate any sign of an impact event, nor did it recover any meteoric fragments. A later expedition, however, did uncover magnetite globules and various forms of silicate globules embedded in the earth and in the trees.

Most scientists eventually settled on either an icy comet explosively vaporized before reaching the surface, or a small rocky asteroid exploding in the atmosphere and leaving no appreciable fragments. But the absence of definitive evidence for an impact invited many exotic theories–ranging from “mirror-matter” or a tiny “quantum black hole,” to an exploding alien craft or a Nikola Tesla experiment gone awry.

In past discussions of the Tunguska event, our Picture of the Day editors have suggested electric discharge between a small comet or asteroid and the Earth. That suggestion was based on a wide variety of recorded physical effects and the testimony of human witnesses.

More recently, however, a team of Italian researchers has suggested that the 164-foot deep Lake Cheko, five miles northwest of the epicenter of the blast, could be the site of an impact by a meteor or a fragment of the body responsible for the devastating Tunguska event.

The team reported that 3D sonar images of the lake’s bottom indicate that it is funnel-shaped, something that might be expected of both an impactor and an electric discharge. Using seismic detectors, the University of Bologna scientists discovered an area of greater density beneath the lake, noting that this could indicate the remains of a meteor. “When we looked at the bottom of the lake, we measured seismic waves reflecting off of something,” said Giuseppe Longo, a physicist at the University of Bologna in Italy and co-author of the study. “Nobody has found this before. We can only explain that and the shape of the lake as a low-velocity impact crater.”

According to a report on the Space.com web site, however, some physicists are skeptical about the small size of the Lake Cheko crater. “We know from the entry physics that the largest and most energetic objects penetrate deepest,” said David Morrison, an astronomer with NASA’s Ames Research Center. Morrison wondered aloud why only a fragment of the main explosion would reach the ground to make a relatively small crater, while the greater portion would not create a larger main crater.

But Alan Harris, a planetary scientist at the Space Science Institute, points out that, in 1947, the Russian Sikhote-Alin meteorite created 100 small craters. Some were 20 meters (66 feet) across. A site in Poland also exists, he explained, where a large meteor exploded and created a series of small lakes. “If the fragment was traveling slowly enough, there’s actually a good chance [the Italian team) will unearth some meteorite material,” Harris said.

The researchers will return to Tunguska this summer with plans to drill beneath the bottom of Lake Cheko, hoping to find a meteorite. From an Electric Universe perspective, if the Tunguska explosion was the result of an electric discharge, a meteor fragment may indeed be found, pointing to the source of the discharge. But more likely, the increased density beneath the lake could be the signature of the electric arc that excavated the depression, producing the fused sands and soils of a fulgurite.

By Stephen Smith

New Tunguska Crater Found?.

Earth Passing Into Cosmic Energy Cloud

Lawrence E. Joseph
Author, “AFTERMATH: A Guide to Preparing for and Surviving Apocalypse 2012”
Posted: 12/29/09 09:21 AM ET

On Christmas Eve, 2009, the startling hypothesis that our Solar System, the Sun and all its planets, are moving into a potentially dangerous and destabilizing interstellar energy cloud, was resoundingly sustained. In their research paper, “A strong, highly-tilted interstellar magnetic field near the Solar System,” published the December 24, 2009 issue of Nature, a highly respected scientific journal, M. Opher et al report on data transmitted from Voyager, the twin spacecraft that have been exploring the outer reaches of the Solar System since 1977.

“We have discovered a strong magnetic field just outside the solar system. This magnetic field holds the interstellar energy cloud together and solves the long-standing puzzle of how it can exist at all,” says Opher, a NASA Heliophysics Guest Investigator from George Mason University. He explains that this energy cloud is at least twice as strong as had previously been predicted and that the Solar System has begun to pass into it, adding that this field “is turbulent or has a distortion in the solar vicinity.”

In fact, most scientists had either minimized the possible significance of the interstellar energy cloud or dismissed the whole notion of its existence altogether. But not Dr. Alexei Dmitriev, the esteemed Russian space physicist whom I visited in Akademgorodok, a clandestine scientific research city outside of Novosibirsk, Siberia. In my recent book, Apocalypse 2012: An Investigation into Civilization’s End, I detailed Dmitriev’s conclusions, based on his team’s analysis of Voyager data, that the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are inexplicably excited — immense storms, mammoth eruptions, plasma arcs jetting from the planets’ surface to their moons. He reasoned that this turbulence is caused by an external injection of energy into the planets’ atmospheres: to wit, an interstellar energy cloud which the leading edge of the Solar System has now entered.

The Nature article does not examine the earthly ramifications of moving into the energy cloud beyond suggesting that we could face an increase in cosmic rays, which could affect everything from space travel to rainfall. But the prescient Dmitriev, who has been publishing on the subject for the past fifteen years, observes that passage into this interstellar cloud has already begun to perturb the Sun, causing solar outbursts that are leading to hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes of unprecedented ferocity here on Earth. He is on record as predicting that we will face global catastrophe in “not tens but ones of years.” When pressed, Dmitriev guesstimates that the Solar System will remain within this turbulent energy cloud for something on the order of three millennia.

The confirmation of Dmitriev’s interstellar energy cloud hypothesis marks the third time that major predictions made in Apocalypse 2012 have been validated since it was published in 2007. Much of the book concerned the potential impacts of solar turbulence on climatic and seismic events, on the global satellite network and also the electrical power grid. Lo and behold, in December, 2008, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a 100+ page report detailing the grave vulnerability of the electrical power grid to solar blasts, which, by scientific consensus, are next expected to climax in late 2012 or early 2013. The NAS concludes that up to 130 million people could find themselves without electricity for months or years due to solar mega-storms shorting out the grid. Without telecommunications, water or gasoline (the pumps are electric), refrigeration, and basic law enforcement or military security, civilization as we know it would be brought to its knees.

Apocalypse 2012 also reported extensively on evidence that the Earth’s protective magnetic shield is showing signs of realignment and deterioration, a hypothesis emphatically validated in December, 2008, THEMIS, a squadron of five NASA research satellites unexpectedly flew through a giant, pole-to-equator breach in our planet’s magnetic field. The astrophysicists attached to the THEMIS project were utterly astonished by the data, with David Sibeck, the project leader, going so far as to declare that “it was as though the Sun rose in the west.” The shields are down, Scotty, and the Sun is going to begin pummeling us big time in late 2012 or early 2013.

Our space neighborhood is changing, and not for the better. We need to take precautions to defend our home planet, our way of life, starting right now.

Lawrence E. Joseph: Passing Into the Energy Cloud.

Asteroid Will Pass Closer To Earth Than Many Satellites

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2012

CONTACT:
Mat Kaplan
Voice: 626-793-5100
E-mail: mat.kaplan@planetary.org

In less than a year, an asteroid that is half the size of a football field will pass within just a few thousand miles of our planet. The discovery of this object, dubbed 2012 DA14, was made possible by a Shoemaker Near Earth Object (NEO) grant provided by the Planetary Society.

The giant space rock was discovered on February 22, 2012 by La Sagra Observatory in southern Spain. One of the observatory’s telescopes had recently been upgraded through the Planetary Society grant. Its new camera enabled detection of fast moving objects like 2012 DA14 – requiring very fast imaging for discovery and determination of their paths. The upgraded instrument has far outperformed the Observatory’s other telescopes. It has found more than ten NEOs, along with a previously unknown comet.

At fifty meters across, 2012 DA14 is similar in size to the object that caused the Tunguska air burst over Siberia in 1908, leveling 2,000 square kilometers of forest. Fortunately, there is no danger of impact during the next pass of 2012 DA14.

“This asteroid is a wakeup call for the importance of defending the Earth from future asteroid impacts,” says Bill Nye, Chief Executive Officer of The Planetary Society. “Big impacts don’t happen often, but they will happen.”

2012 DA14 will come closest to Earth on February 15, 2013. It will zoom to within about 3.5 Earth radii or about 22,500 km from the Earth’s surface, well within the orbit of geostationary communications satellites (35,800 km). Current estimates are that it will be about magnitude 7 in brightness – not quite visible to the naked eye, but within reach of binoculars or a small telescope. It will fly across the sky at about one Moon diameter per minute.

Additional follow-up by observers around the world has resulted in this accurate prediction of the asteroid’s current orbit by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Near Earth Object Program Office. Knowing the close approach is coming will allow astronomers to study the characteristics of the asteroid. A major goal will be greater refinement of its orbit so that future close approaches and even possible impacts can be predicted and prepared for.

Jaime Nomen and his colleagues at La Sagra Observatory have introduced observing strategies designed to improve the probability of discovering asteroids that larger surveys may miss. Nomen reports, “We try to find smaller objects located close to Earth that generally move at high angular speed. They may appear anywhere in the sky, even if that sky region had already been thoroughly searched just days before.”

The strategy paid off. With the new CCD telescope camera configured to shoot rapid, short exposures, Nomen and his colleagues captured 2012 DA14 as it moved across the sky at almost 11 arcseconds per minute. This is slower than a satellite but quite fast for a NEO. It’s equivalent to a lunar diameter every three hours. The asteroid was already heading away from Earth after passing the planet about a week before, and at much greater distance than next year’s encounter. Its path across the eastern sky, fast angular motion, quite faint (and fading) brightness, and high declination (far above the ecliptic plane in which most of the planets travel) could easily have allowed 2012 DA14 to escape undetected.

Planetary Society Gene Shoemaker grants are awarded to amateur observers, observers in developing countries, and professional astronomers who, with seed funding, can greatly increase their programs’ contributions to NEO research. The program, begun in 1997, is named for Gene Shoemaker, a highly respected leader in the study of impact structures, and an advocate for NEO discovery and tracking programs.

The Planetary Society supports several projects that are helping to find near Earth objects and test techniques that may allow humanity to deflect a NEO that is headed toward a potentially catastrophic impact. The Society is committed to planetary defense. “Discovery, follow-up, and characterization of asteroids enabled by our Shoemaker grants is one of our most gratifying rewards,” says Bruce Betts, the organization’s Director of Projects. “We want to help humanity avoid the world’s only preventable natural disaster. Astronomers like those at La Sagra Observatory are critical to that goal. Their discovery and next year’s close approach will result in a scientific and planetary defense treasure trove of data.”

The 2012 DA14 flyby in 2013 will also serve as a warm-up for a similar fly by in 2029 by the much larger Apophis, a 270-meter asteroid co-discovered by Shoemaker NEO grant winner Roy Tucker.

For more information, including an update on the discovery and follow-up from Jaime Nomen of La Sagra Observatory, visit http://planetary.org/programs/projects/neo_grants/

About the Planetary Society
The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. Today, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded the Planetary Society in 1980. Bill Nye, a long time member of the Planetary Society’s Board, is now the CEO.

Planetary Society
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Pasadena, CA 91105 USA
Web: http://www.planetary.org
Voice: (626) 793-5100
Fax: (626) 793-5528
Email: tps@planetary.org