Feeds

'Nanodiamond' asteroid tracked from space to desert impact

Rare meteor from mystery ureilite mother-planetoid

New hybrid storage solutions

An international alliance of astronomers are exceedingly chuffed to announce the first occasion of an asteroid being tracked from space, through impact with the Earth's atmosphere and thence to recovery of fragments on the ground.

"Any number of meteorites have been observed as fireballs and smoking meteor trails as they come through the atmosphere," says Douglas Rumble of the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory. "It's been happening for years. But to actually see this object before it gets to the Earth's atmosphere and then to follow it in – that's the unique thing."

Catalina Sky Survey images showing how asteroid 2008 TC3 was detected

Watch the skies, robot.

The space object in question, catchily named 2008 TC3, was first picked up last October by automated sky-watching telescopes belonging to the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson in Arizona. Observatories and amateur astronomers worldwide then tracked the 80-tonne asteroid until it passed into the Earth's shadow just hours later, refining information on its trajectory. Shortly thereafter, 2008 TC3 ploughed into the atmosphere above northern Africa and exploded, scattering bits of itself all over Sudan's Nubian Desert.

British boffins at the UK government's William Herschel Telescope in the Canary Islands, alerted to the inbound asteroid, managed to get spectroscope readings on it - offering valuable clues as to 2008 TC3's composition.

"These observations were technically quite difficult since the object was moving fast across the sky," according to Dr Gavin Ramsay from Armagh Observatory. "However, the William Hershel Telescope rose to the challenge magnificently and demonstrated just what a versatile telescope it is. There was a keen sense of excitement in the control room."

After the "car sized" space lump blew up, boffins calculated the impact point for any remaining astro-shrapnel. Dr Peter Jenniskens of the SETI institute in California teamed up with Dr Muawia Shaddad and 45 students and staff from the University of Khartoum to mount a desert search for surviving fragments. Some 47 meteorites were found during expeditions which began last December.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Boffins: Behold the SILICON CHEAPNESS of our tiny, radio-signal-munching IoT sensor
Single ant-sized Stanford chip combines radio, 'puter, antenna
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
TROUT and EELS in SINISTER PACT to RULE the oceans
Slimy chums form deadly alliance to sweep seas
Drones swarm over bearded Brit billionaire's island getaway
Just to take lovely pictures though, after Richard Branson invests in 3D Robotics
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
California blue whale numbers soar to historical levels, say boffins
Still far too many of them being struck by US ships, mind
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.