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Space Science

Meteorite Hunters Find the West Texas Fireball 64

An anonymous reader writes "A fireball streaked over Austin, Texas on February 15 producing sonic booms and startling people for hundreds of miles. The video of the event was shown on national television and viewed by thousands of people on the Net. The first news reports speculated that the fireball might have been debris from a February 13th collision between two satellites over Siberia but space experts said that the object was probably a meteor. Now this has been confirmed: experienced meteorite hunters located a strewnfield about 120 miles north of the filming site of the Austin cameraman and have recovered over 100 freshly fallen meteorites."
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Meteorite Hunters Find the West Texas Fireball

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  • Astronomy nerd style!
  • Pure speculation... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:43AM (#27061499) Journal
    ...but I wonder if it had anything to do with this []. Perhaps the asteroid has passed this way before and was broken into smaller chunks by gravity. Would be interesting to see if someone could figure out the fireballs tragectory.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Meteorites fall all the time. Just because a 30-meter asteroid makes the news, it doesn't suddenly make it the origin of every meteorite.

    • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @04:18AM (#27061943)
      If it had broken up before it entered the atmosphere, it would have been much more widely scattered. Very small aerodynamic effects around the rocks way up in the upper atmosphere would cause their entry trajectories to be very different... the individual rocks would likely have landed hundreds of miles apart, not clustered around a single farmer's field.

      In other words, in such circumstances the Butterfly Effect has vastly more influence on small, irregular objects than it is on, say, a large, smooth, symmetrical, engineered re-entry vehicle.
      • Qualification (Score:3, Insightful)

        of course it does depend on the size of the fragments... if they were large, the effect would be smaller.
      • Good points. Military Radar if (say) NASA asked politely?
    • In a word: No
      Objects in orbit don't really change direction in radically unpredictable ways.

      Consider the asteroid 99942 Apophis []. There was some concern that it would hit Earth in 2029, but it has been determined that it will not. However, we also know that it will hit Earth in 2036 if (in 2029) it passes through a specific area a little under 2000 feet wide.

      If we can calculate the probability of a specific asteroid hitting Earth 20-30 years from now, surely we can do it with one that is much closer?

      • Unless the asteroid in question is small enough that it falls into the "OMFG HOW DID WE MISS THAT?!?! WE'RE DOOMED!!!" category. I can have a small asteroid knocking on our doorstep (a few hundred thousand kilometers, astronomically speaking) and still not be able to see it with the vast majority of instrumentation in our arsenal today.

      • "Objects in orbit don't really change direction in radically unpredictable ways."

        I think you're missing where I'm coming from []. A solid rock will indeed act as you have stated (pool table mechanics), but what if some of it was not so solid and it started to crumble under the gravity of close planetary (solar?) fly-by's, say a hundred orbits ago.

        Coincidently, the "n-body problem" is a classical example of the "butterfly effect" (mentioned by Jane Q Public above).

        I have absolutely no evidence that thi
    • ...but I wonder if it had anything to do with this [].

      Are you suggesting an asteroid conspiracy?

  • Sorry I was thinking this was a post about a small taco stand that kept me up 'till the early morning last Saturday.
  • by Dahan ( 130247 ) <> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:52AM (#27061553)
    The town is named West, and it's not actually in West Texas []--it's more Central Texas.
  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @11:56AM (#27065225) Homepage

    It was a UFO, not a meteor!
    This story about finding "meteorites" is just a government coverup!

    Aliens walk among us.
    The Rapture is near.


  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:47PM (#27065933)
    I've heard of number of "hunters" who strap a magnetometer on their ATVs and criss-cross fallow fields looking for iron-stones within the top couple feet. This is the easiest terrain to routinely run ATVs over. Teh slashdot-types whould automate this with GPS and artificial intelligence.

Trap full -- please empty.