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Selected links to asteroid, comet, and meteor news   -   December 2006

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Updated: 10 January 2007

Notes: 1) Many of these links are also carried on A/CC's RSS news feed and may appear there first.
2) News release links are fairly stable but news media links often aren't, so grab pages now you might need later.
3) Bold daily dates are UTC. Unless otherwise stated, dates for news items are those declared by the sources.
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[ November 2006 News | News Archive | January 2007 News ]
30
December
2006
Saturday
  • Dec. 28th edition of David Morrison's NEO News, posted 29 Dec. at SpaceRef.com - Clack Chapman quote: "I wrote to Dr. Vern Pankonin at NSF and asked him to supply me with any documents in which the Senior Review evaluated, in any way, the merits and issues with radar [at Arecibo]. He replied that there are no such documents."
     KEYWORDS: planetary radar

29
December
2006
Friday
  • "Explosions from outer space," Wanganui Chronicle 30 Dec. - Quote: "The pressure waves from the explosion physically forced me hard down on to the bike, not once, but twice."
     KEYWORDS: 1999 July 7 New Zealand event
  • "Prospector says Hartman Rocks, meteor strike," Gunnison Country Times 29 Dec. - Quote: "If Johnny Tonko is right, then nearly 364 million years ago ... a meteorite crashed into the earth with the force of many hydrogen bombs forming a crater 5 miles across; Gunnison's own Hartman Rocks."
     KEYWORDS: Colorado, Devonian extinction
  • "Space's threat to civilization," CNN International 29 Dec. - Rusty Schweickart quote: "It may be good to go back to the moon, but if you're going there for resources there are potentially far richer reserves on NEOs and they're easier to get to. We should be looking to use our resources to protect life on earth, plus it would cost a fraction of the proposed lunar mission."
     KEYWORDS: planetary defense
  • "'Cosmic Collisions': Prepare for Deep Impact," Washington Post 29 Dec.
     KEYWORDS: planetarium show
  • "Ruby from a red giant," Astronomy magazine 21 Dec. - Quote: "In the case of spinel, a ruby-like crystal ... the magnesium atoms of the pre-solar variety turn out to be heavier, on average, than in the same material from the bulk of meteorites."
     KEYWORDS: OC2

27
December
2006
Wednesday

26
December
2006
Tuesday
  • "The Meteor Farmer," Jan. 2007 Wired magazine posted 26 Dec. - Quote: "Eventually, Kiowa County will be tapped out [so Steve Arnold] has signed 12 other hunters to join him in using his mapping techniques on eight locations across North America to dig up other valuable meteorites."
     KEYWORDS: Kansas meteorites, Brenham strewn field, Marvin Killgore, Robert Haag

25
December
2006
Monday
    There isn't much for minor object news today, but here is some very interesting reading not mentioned before in these news pages:
    • Jan.-March 2007 edition (2.31Mb PDF) of the Minor Planet Bulletin, publication of the Minor Planets section of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO), with lots of photometric light-curve work, mainly for numbered asteroids. See also a revised article with "Lightcurve Photometry Opportunities" for Jan.-March 2007 (24Kb PDF).
    • Nov. 2006 edition of Distant EKOs with abstracts (some with links to preprints) on subjects such as "Charon's Radius and Density from the Combined Data Sets of the 2005 July 11 Occultation," "Subsurface Oceans and Deep Interiors of Medium-sized Outer Planet Satellites and Large Trans-Neptunian Objects," and "Origin of Scattered Disk Resonant TNOs: Evidence for an Ancient Excited Kuiper Belt of 50 AU Radius."
        KEYWORDS: Oort Cloud

24
December
2006
Sunday
  • "Mission: to destroy it before it gets us," The London Sunday Times - Quote: "[A] shortlist of ideas ... for diverting a 40m-ton asteroid ... will be presented and discussed at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science."
     KEYWORDS: 99942 Apophis (2004 MN4), planetary defense

23
December
2006
Saturday

22
December
2006
Friday
  • "Naval Research Laboratory scientists analyze Comet Wild 2 samples," NRL at EurekAlert 22 Dec.
    • "Rethinking solar system history," Astronomy magazine 15 Dec. - Quote: "We're seeing real rocks in comets... Yes, comets are made largely of ice, but also from exotic, high-temperature minerals."
        KEYWORDS: 81P/Wild 2, NASA Stardust comet mission
  • "Clues to the death of our Solar System," Cosmos 22 Dec. - Quote: "[This] is the first direct evidence for the existence of asteroids around a white dwarf."
    • "Solar System's Fate Predicted by Nearby White Dwarf?" National Geographic 21 Dec. - Quote: "During our sun's red giant phase, the inner planets Mercury, Venus, and probably Earth will be destroyed, [but the sun's] weakened gravitational pull will allow Mars, the asteroid belt, and the outer planets to escape to wider orbits."
        KEYWORDS: SDSS 1228+1040
  • "Mysterious Egyptian Glass Formed by Meteorite Strike," National Geographic 21 Dec. - Quote: "At the time of the impact [between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago], the Dakhla Oasis ... was inhabited by early humans, according to archaeological evidence... What happened may have been similar to the so-called Tunguska event."
     KEYWORDS: archaeological impact science
  • "Experts split over photo of 'meteor'," The Scotsman 21 Dec. - Quote: "For the next ten minutes, the 40-year-old took dozens of pictures of a strange streak of light across the Lothians sky." Editor's note: A general rule of thumb is, if you can take pictures of it for ten minutes, then it's not meteor.
     KEYWORDS: vapor trails
  • "Radar Love: Asteroid Detection and Science," JPL 19 Dec. - Quote: "The standard ground-based tools for asteroid science require a night's sky, and what you [get] is an image of a dot... With radar astronomy, the sky at high noon is just as inviting as that at midnight, and ... we can actually get valuable information about the physical makeup of these objects."
     KEYWORDS: Arecibo, Goldstone, planetary radar

21
December
2006
Thursday

20
December
2006
Wednesday
  • "Meteorite identified," Calgary Sun 19 Dec. - Quote: "The discovery of an unusual rock a quarter-century ago [near Whistler, B.C.] has been identified as the 69th meteorite find in Canada."     KEYWORDS: British Columbia, Kelowna meteor-wrong, Prairie Meteorite Search
  • "Fire from heaven," The Economist 19 Dec. - Quote: "The decay products of a short-lived isotope called hafnium-187 ... are rare on Earth. On Mars they are more abundant [known from a few dozen Mars meteorites, which] indicates that Mars formed before Earth."
     KEYWORDS: 1807 Dec. 14 Connecticut event
  • "Local people report seeing fire in the sky," Advertiser-Tribune 19 Dec. - Note: This reports sighting from Seneca and Hancock counties in Ohio of an orbital launch from Wallops Island on the Virginia coast. See more about the Minotaur launch below
     KEYWORDS: 2006 Dec. 16 Minotaur launch, Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport
  • "Turkish scientists in search for oldest meteorite," Xinhua at People's Daily 18 Dec. - Quote: "Acting on a 14th century travelogue [the] search effort will be conducted in the Odemis town of western province of Izmir."
     KEYWORDS: Turkey

19
December
2006
Tuesday

16
December
2006
Saturday
  • "Sampling the Solar System," Space.com 16 Dec. - Note: This article talks about the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office at NASA Johnson Space Center, the NASA Genesis and Stardust particle-return missions, the proposed NASA OSIRIS asteroid sample-return mission, and preparing for future ice-return missions.     KEYWORDS: 81P/Wild 2
  • "UFO No Longer Unidentified," WTAE-TV 16 Dec. - Quote: "The National Weather Service said they thought what people saw was remnants of the Gemini Meteor Shower from earlier in the week. NASA, however, said the sighting [was] that of a rocket launched from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 7 a.m."
    • "Minotaur rocket makes sunrise ascent from Virginia," Spaceflight Now 16 Dec. - Quote: "[This morning] a Minotaur rocket blazed a trail into orbit ... from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on the southern tip of Wallops Island."
    • "Minotaur rocket poised for its first blastoff from Virginia," Spaceflight Now 8 Dec. - Quote: "The first launch from a newly christened commercial spaceport ... will be the first orbital mission to originate from Wallops since 1999 [an air launch offshore, and] the first attempted ground-launched space mission from the site in more than 11 years."
        KEYWORDS: 2006 Dec. 16 Minotaur launch, Geminids
  • "A flick of the switch that will help save the planet," The Sydney Morning Herald 16 Dec.
     KEYWORDS: Australia dark sky
  • "Payload Active Checkout Operations," ESA Rosetta mission status 15 Dec. - Quote: "All checkout operations were executed smoothly, except for the OSIRIS [main imager] non-interactive operations ... which failed because of an instrument anomaly."
    • "ESA mission controllers react to solar flare," ESA 15 Dec. - Quote: "Ferri says that CME events are highly directional, and that by chance all three of ESA's deep space missions, Mars Express, Venus Express and Rosetta, happen to be oriented on the side of the Sun opposite to the Earth right now."
        KEYWORDS: ESA Rosetta comet mission, Philae lander
  • "Let there be darkness, say local astronomy buffs," Nevada Appeal 15 Dec.
     KEYWORDS: Nevada dark sky

15
December
2006
Friday

14
December
2006
Thursday

13
December
2006
Wednesday
  • "$50,000 Prize For Asteroid Tagging Designs," Planetary Soc. 13 Dec. - Quote: "With this competition, we hope not only to generate creative thinking about tagging Apophis, but also to stimulate greater awareness of the broader near-Earth object threat."
     KEYWORDS: 99942 Apophis (2004 MN4), planetary defense

12
December
2006
Tuesday
  • "Mars Takes a Fresh Pounding," Space.com 12 Dec. - Quote: "If you were to live on Mars for about 20 years, you would live close enough to one of these events to hear it." - Note: See more info below.
     KEYWORDS: impact science
  • "Was Earth Ever Infected by Martian Biota?" Astrobiology journal news item at SpaceRef.com 12 Dec. - Quote:"Here we propose that the radioresistance ... observed in several terrestrial bacteria has a martian origin... Our mechanism implies multiple and frequent exchanges of biota between Mars and Earth [by way of meteorites]."
     KEYWORDS: panspermia
  • SpaceWeather.com for 12 Dec. has a Geminid fireball image from Wisconsin yesterday morning.
     KEYWORDS: Geminids
  • "December 8, 2006 Fireball," Cloudbait Observatory 11 Dec. - Quote: "This widely observed fireball occurred at approximately 6:45 AM MST on Friday... It may have been traveling mainly east to west, but the witness reports are also consistent with a more north to south path."
    • "Mysterious object brightens night sky," Star-Tribune 11 Dec. - Quote: "[Several] county residents in the Muddy Mountain and Bates Creek areas on Casper Mountain [Friday in Wyoming] called to report a large, flaming object traveling eastward at a high rate of speed at approximately 6:50 a.m." - Note: The time and maybe the place are right but the reported direction is wrong for this to be associated with the Colorado-Utah event.
        KEYWORDS: 2006 Dec. 8 western U.S. event
  • "Don Pettit Goes to Antarctica," Science@NASA 11 Dec.
     KEYWORDS: ANSMET

11
December
2006
Monday

9
December
2006
Saturday

8
December
2006
Friday
  • "Bright meteor streaks over Colorado, Utah," AP at Rocky Mountain News and many other news sites 8 Dec. - Quote: "The meteor was spotted [this morning] at about 6:45 a.m. MST... [Chris Peterson] said it was not captured on a network of meteor-watching cameras in Colorado because they had been turned off as the day dawned."
     KEYWORDS: 2006 Dec. 8 western U.S. event, all-sky cameras
  • "Week-Long Meteor Shower to Dazzle," Space.com Dec. 8
     KEYWORDS: 3200 Phaeton, Geminids
  • "World must focus on asteroids, foundation warns," Seattle Times at The Kansas City Star and other news sites 8 Dec.
     KEYWORDS: B612 Foundation, planetary defense

7
December
2006
Thursday

6
December
2006
Wednesday
  • "Present-Day Impact Cratering on Mars," Malin Space Science Systems 6 Dec. - Note: This page has numerous links to images and descriptions documenting new impact craters as well as an explanation of survey procedures and the Catalog of New Impact Sites on Mars Formed May 1999 - March 2006 (66.9Mb PDF). - Quote: "Identifying new craters on Mars that formed since May 1999 allows Mars scientists to constrain the present-day impact cratering rate of the planet. It allows comparison of the actual cratering rate with what is derived from models that make assumptions about how the martian rate may have differed in the past from that of the Moon, how close Mars is located relative to the asteroid belt, how well the thin martian atmosphere filters out small incoming meteorites, and related factors."
    • "NASA Images Suggest Water Still Flows in Brief Spurts on Mars," NASA/JPL 6 Dec. - Quote: "Besides looking for changes in gullies, the orbiter's camera team assessed the rate at which new impact craters appear. The camera photographed approximately 98 percent of Mars in 1999 and approximately 30 percent of the planet was photographed again in 2006. The newer images show 20 fresh impact craters, ranging in diameter from 2 meters (7 feet) to 148 meters (486 feet) that were not present approximately seven years earlier." - See also "Before-and-After Look at Impact Craters."
        KEYWORDS: impact flux, impact science
  • "Future Dimming for Puerto Rico Telescope," AP at CBS news (and at more than a hundred other news sites) 6 Dec. - Quote: "At the world's largest radio telescope, astronomers searching for asteroids on a collision course with Earth are bracing for a more worldly threat: The steepest budget cuts and first layoffs since the observatory opened in 1963."
     KEYWORDS: planetary radar
  • "Start of First Payload Active Checkout," ESA Rosetta mission status report 5 Dec. - Quote: "From 28 November until 1 December, all [communication] passes have been dedicated to the [comet] Lander Philae interactive checkout."
     KEYWORDS: comet mission

  • 5
    December
    2006
    Tuesday
    • "The world's biggest meteor crater," SouthAfrica.info 5 Dec. - Quote: "Two billion years ago a meteorite 10km in diameter hit the earth about 100km southwest of Johannesburg... The impact would have vaporised about 70 cubic kilometres of rock -- and may have increased the earth's oxygen levels to a degree that made the development of multicellular life possible."
       KEYWORDS: South Africa Free State

    4
    December
    2006
    Monday

    3
    December
    2006
    Sunday
    • SpaceWeather.com on 3 [and 4] Dec. reports that "According to [Bill Cooke's] calculations, fireballs as bright as Venus appear somewhere on Earth more than 100 times daily. Fireballs as bright as a quarter Moon occur once every ten days, approximately, and fireballs as bright as a full Moon once every five months. The vast majority are never noticed."
       KEYWORDS: meteor rates
    • "Lunar Leonid Strikes," Science@NASA 1 Dec. - Quote: "We've now seen 11 and possibly 12 lunar impacts since we started monitoring the Moon one year ago... That's about four times more hits than our computer models predicted."     KEYWORDS: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, Leonids
    • "N.D. meteorites will be in new exhibit," The Minot Daily News 1 Dec.
       KEYWORDS: North Dakota, New Leipzig meteorite, Richardton meteorite
    • "Single Asteroid Impact, Not Two, Killed Dinos, Study Says," National Geographic 30 Nov.
       KEYWORDS: Chicxulub crater, Demerara Rise, impact science, K-T Boundary
    • "Tagish Lake Meteorite Expert," Univ. of Western Ontario 30 Nov. - Note: For more about this story, see Nov. 30th news links, as well as news from Dec. 2002 and a bunch of older links about the 18 Jan. 2000 Yukon fireball event and subsequent meteorite find.
       KEYWORDS: bolide

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