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Skydiver's Helmet Cam Captures a Falling Meteor 142

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-a-close-one dept.
reifman (786887) writes "Anders Helstrup went skydiving nearly two years ago near Hedmark, Norway and while he didn't realize it at the time, when he reviewed the footage taken by two cameras fixed to his helmet during the dive, he saw a rock plummet past him. He took it to experts and they realized he had captured a meteorite falling during its dark flight — when it has been slowed by atmospheric braking, and has cooled and is no longer luminous."
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Skydiver's Helmet Cam Captures a Falling Meteor

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  • Re:Two years? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2014 @05:37AM (#46659167)

    Because they are trying to get people involved in the search for the meteorite.

    FTFA: 'Since the search for the meteorite has come up empty so far, Helstrup’s story and video has been released in an effort to recruit more people to look for the rock.'

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2014 @05:51AM (#46659221)

    Article notes that they kept it quiet so the geologists could have a look for the rock - I assume these things are pretty rare and perhaps there's even a concern a treasure hunter might get there first and take it? (perhaps a geologist can give a more informed opinion here....) . Certainly I have a geologist friend who was flown from Europe to the deserts of Australia on more than one occasion to look for meteorites because they are so rare... apparently much easier (comparatively speaking) to spot in a bare desert than lush green European landscapes.

    The article suggests they looked for it, couldn't find it, and are now asking the public to help find it. Plus perhaps it took a while before the sky diver realised something had happened after a few views of the footage, he might not have realised at the time.

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Friday April 04, 2014 @06:42AM (#46659393) Homepage

    More likely he laid has parachute on the ground for packing and accidentally picked up a rock without noticing and it was ejected when he pulled the chord.

    Which then defied gravity by matching speed with him as he slowed for more than 5 seconds before dropping past?

  • by heypete (60671) <pete@heypete.com> on Friday April 04, 2014 @06:46AM (#46659413) Homepage

    Article notes that they kept it quiet so the geologists could have a look for the rock - I assume these things are pretty rare and perhaps there's even a concern a treasure hunter might get there first and take it? (perhaps a geologist can give a more informed opinion here....) . Certainly I have a geologist friend who was flown from Europe to the deserts of Australia on more than one occasion to look for meteorites because they are so rare... apparently much easier (comparatively speaking) to spot in a bare desert than lush green European landscapes.

    The article suggests they looked for it, couldn't find it, and are now asking the public to help find it. Plus perhaps it took a while before the sky diver realised something had happened after a few views of the footage, he might not have realised at the time.

    I'm not a geologist, but I do research on meteorites and have participated in a meteorite search expedition sponsored by the Swiss and Omani governments. You're right: there is a concern that private collectors might find meteorites first. In the case of the expedition I was on, that was a major concern: we were plotting the distribution of thousands of fragments of one meteorite strewn over a large (several hundred square kilometers) area. Each of the fragments we found were photographed where they lay from several angles, the location recorded using GPS, given a catalog number, collected using clean tools etc. Private collectors often don't bother doing this, so it makes it difficult to identify where meteorites in private collections came from. This makes it difficult for researchers who are interested in the precise distribution of the fragments (some of my colleagues are able to use the distribution of light and heavy fragments from this meteorite to determine the speed of the wind at different altitudes when the meteorite passed through the atmosphere, and this requires precise knowledge of where the fragments were found). My particular research is less concerned with location, but it's still nice to know the provenance of meteorites.

    Of course, we don't begrudge individuals finding meteorites and wanting to keep or sell them, but we'd really appreciate it if people called their local university (or other relevant authority) so researchers could log the find and perhaps keep a sample for scientific purposes.

  • Re:Two years? (Score:4, Informative)

    by theguyfromsaturn (802938) on Friday April 04, 2014 @09:05AM (#46660025)

    Obviously he's to become the living embodiement of Thor. All the clues are there.... the space rock (pretty cool hammer from the sky). He's also Norwegian... descendent of the Vikings.

  • by SmilingBoy (686281) on Friday April 04, 2014 @09:34AM (#46660243)

    I happened to read about this story last night, so here's a few more interesting links:

    More technical report: http://norskmeteornettverk.no/wordpress/?p=1399 [norskmeteornettverk.no]

    YouTube channel with the original, non-edited videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/DarkFlightMeteorite/videos [youtube.com]

    First I thought it sounded like a hoax promoting a camera or skydiving equipment, but I now think it is legit. Or a very elaborate hoax!

  • by Paezley (235267) on Friday April 04, 2014 @11:02AM (#46660923)
    I am a licensed skydiver and I can tell you that I have seen objects fall out of my canopy on opening and I've seen videos of others that look very similar to this.

    It is actually very easy to explain the delay once you understand how modern square ram air parachutes are designed.

    Modern canopies are roughly rectangular and are composed of 7 - 9 cells in parallel.

    Each cell has an opening at the nose of the canopy that is roughly rectangular. The cell tapers down until the topskin and bottom skin meet at the tail. This creates the parafoil (wing) that looks a lot like an airplane.

    On the ground, it is very easy for objects to end up inside of a cell. When you pack the parachute, these objects can move deeper into the cell (maybe all the way to the tail).

    Opening is a very violent process during which the parachute expands from being in a bag approximately the size of a woman's purse to full flight which, depending on the parachute, can be anywhere from ~100 - 400 square feet.

    My parachute is a Sabre 2 170 which means it is just under 20 feet wide and 7 feet deep.

    This means that on opening, an object in the tail of the parachute would have to move forward 7 feet. Depending on the pitch of the canopy and what maneuvers I am executing, the combination of the angle and gravity could easily keep an object inside the canopy for more than 5 seconds. The object (even a good sized rock) would stay in there for the entire flight.

    You have to also consider that this was a wingsuit deployment, which has different opening characteristics than a traditional vertical deployment because the jumper has much more forward velocity and less vertical velocity. This would affect the orientation of the canopy and would have an effect on how objects inside the canopy would move around.

    I have personally seen grass and twigs come out of my canopy. I have seen a video from a friend who saw several socks come out of his nose as his canopy had been sitting unpacked next to a laundry basket the night before. Parachute riggers that do inspections or repairs on canopies have great stories of things they have found inside canopies including phones and drugs.

    So while the meteorite story is exciting, the idea of a rock falling in your immediate airspace doesn't sound very impossible if you're a skydiver. I'd not call it common, but it's certainly not a rare occurrence. While not the most newsworthy, the simplest explanation is the guy packed a rock in his parachute and god knows how he didn't notice when he packed but it wouldn't be the first rock to take make a skydive.
  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Friday April 04, 2014 @11:31AM (#46661243)

    It's not exposed to atmospheric heat (from compression, not friction) for long enough. It's heated for seconds, and the heat is so intense that it blasts off outer layers instead of dispersing into the body -- which, remember, is at cryogenic temperatures when it hits the atmosphere.

    The light from meteors is nearly all from compressed atmosphere and vaporized rock/metal. All the material that's hot enough to glow gets knocked off.

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