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Record Meteorite Hits Norway 281

Posted by Zonk
from the duck dept.
equex256 writes "Early Wednesday morning, a meteorite streaked across the sky in northern Norway, near Finland and Russia. A witness (Article in Norwegian) went up the mountain to where it hit and reported seeing large boulders that had fallen out of the mountainside, along with many broken trees. Norwegian astronomer Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard told Aftenposten, Norway's largest newspaper, that he would compare the explosive force of the impact with the Hiroshima bomb. This meteorite is suspected to be much larger than the 90-kilo (198-pound) meteorite which hit Alta in 1904, previously recognized as the largest to hit Norway. From the article: 'Røed Ødegaard said the meteorite was visible to an area of several hundred kilometers despite the brightness of the midnight sunlit summer sky. The meteorite hit a mountainside in Reisadalen in North Troms.'"
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Record Meteorite Hits Norway

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  • Re:Giant Røck (Score:3, Interesting)

    by m0ns00n (943739) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:57PM (#15506946)
    Hehe, I'm norwegian, but to mee, that sounds really funny!!! =) In norwegian it's "meteoritt" :-) Bøtt ank ju, veldig gudd! :-)
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by th1ckasabr1ck (752151) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:59PM (#15506948)
    Was it as big as the one that (supposedly) fell at Tunguska [wikipedia.org]? Although I'm still pretty sure that was caused by dark matter or a UFO or something.
  • Re:Hiroshima? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iamlucky13 (795185) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:01PM (#15506959)
    Of course the meteor would not have had any noteworthy radioactivity and was not in a populated area. I don't remember exactly how often it's estimated to happen and I can't find any sources, but meteors of this size hit the earth a lot more often than most people realize...something like between once a year and once a decade. The comparison to Hiroshima really is about the energy of the impact, not the destructiveness. Little boy had a yield equivalent to approximately 15,000 tons of TNT.
  • Pictures (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ATH500 (872417) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:08PM (#15506982) Homepage Journal
    Here is the website of the newspaper and pictures of the meteorite in the sky and the impact: http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/article134 6820.ece [aftenposten.no]
  • Welcome! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by joh_tank (856841) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:12PM (#15506996)
    I for one, welcome our new chondrite overlords!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:15PM (#15507005)
    Whenever the topic of meteors comes up, someone has to post a link to the University of Arizona impact effects calculator [arizona.edu]. Play with the numbers, see if you can destroy the earth.

    Also worth checking out along the Lucifer's hammer line of thought is How to Destroy the Earth [qntm.org]

    I tried a quick reverse engineering of the meteor with the calculator. An iron meteor 4.5 meters in diameter moving 20 km/s hitting crystalline rock at 45 degrees will have a yield of 18 kilotons...slightly higher than the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima. The average interval of an impact of this size on earth is about once every 5 years. Most go largely unnoticed. The earth is a big place.
  • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:27PM (#15507046) Homepage
    I wonder (1) how recent and what resolution Google Earth's latest imagery is, and (2) can we get them to take another shot ASAP and compare them?
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@NoSpAm.praecantator.com> on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:32PM (#15507061) Homepage
    Actually, I saw a paper presented back in the late 90's that fairly convincingly made the case for a mostly iron meteor. The author's contention was that the object slowed due to air resistance, it would heat up. As is heated, the metal would have softenned. As it softenned, the metal would start to pancake like a dum-dum bullet. As it pancakes, its air resistance increases, causing it to slow down even more and heat up even faster, causing it to pancake even more... until you get an airbirst at an altitude with on the order of magnitude suggested by the tree angles at Tunguska. If you acept his hypothesis about the meteor's composition, there were no major contradictions in the evidence.
  • Fiction or Reality? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Yehooti (816574) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:33PM (#15507066)
    Though we've seen this information posted multiple places on the www, considering the nature of this beast how can anyone know if it's factual or not?
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dare nMc (468959) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:38PM (#15507091)
    > The tabloids probably wouldn't pay enough
    maybe the tabloids wouldn't, but meteroites are worth more per pound than gold.
    if you could recover a couple pounds of those 98 pounds you'll be buying any car you wanted.
  • Re:Hiroshima? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dwater (72834) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:42PM (#15507112)
    > Of course the meteor would not have had any noteworthy radioactivity and was not in a populated area

    How can you be so sure?

    I mean, if some people on Earth (it'd be the USA, of course), fire off a nuclear missile at Mars, I can just hear those Martians say, "It won't be radioactive".
  • Now for the science! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gerf (532474) <edtgerf@gmail.com> on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:04PM (#15507187) Journal

    Only if the Hiroshima bomb was a dud. Seriously, a bomb unleashing 63 terajoules of energy (from wikipedia). Even if that rock was 300kg, that means that it would have to be travelling at 648,000m/s or about 1,500,000 mph, in order to have the same amount of energy. Heck, that's about .0022c!

    To say this guy overstated the impact is an understatement in itself.

  • by SpacePunk (17960) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:10PM (#15507216) Homepage
    We had one of these a few weeks ago in south east New Mexico. The explosion shook the house. People that did see it said it was the 'size of a dinner plate' before it exploded. Unfortunately nobody had a camera handy. Didn't get much media coverage at all.
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:19PM (#15507252) Homepage Journal
    As is heated, the metal would have softenned. As it softenned, the metal would start to pancake like a dum-dum bullet. As it pancakes, its air resistance increases, causing it to slow down even more and heat up even faster, causing it to pancake even more.

    I just can't see it working that way. The outer layers of the meteorite would turn to liquid and gas and carry off the heat generated by friction. Thermal conductivity is just too slow to heat up the core of a large body to the point where it will melt in (at most) a couple of seconds.

    A better theory about Tunguska is that it was a loosely bound object like a "snowball" comet fragmennt or a "rubble pile" asteroid. Once it started to break up its surface area increased enormously and then it soaked up a lot of heat quickly and exploded.

  • Re:Brightness ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OblongPlatypus (233746) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:22PM (#15507260)
    What sounds so strange about it?

    If you mean linguistically, I guess I can see what you mean - I think they're trying to use "midnight sun" as a single noun, making "midnight sunlit" an adjective.

    But yes, the sky really is sunlit 24/7 up there right now.
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @11:07PM (#15507396) Journal
    When I seven I was in our very large backyard swinging on our swingset with my friends one summer when we saw this streak of light high in the sky. It was only visible for a few seconds, but as we watched the streak grew brighter until it streaked over the roof of our house. About twenty or thirty feet above the ground it seemed to disintigrate with a popping sound. We searched the backyard for debris but didn't find anything. The meteorite was so small that I am not surprised, but it sure was bright for something so small. That was very cool. Even our neighbor on the hill above us came running down and said he saw the meteorite and wondered if it hit our house.

    Years later as a teenager I was sleeping out on our deck to avoid the summer heat inside the house and I was woken by this shrieking sound, like fireworks, except much louder. I jumped up and saw a very bright, long streak of light screaching across the sky over the lake our house overlooked. As the meteor approached the ground the screaching got louder and higher in pitch until it seemed to "pop" into nothingness. Besides the incredibly high pitched shriek, I was awed by how bright the meteor was as it lit up our deck like a very bright lantern.

    Obviously, both these meteorites do not compare in size to the one that hit Norway, but it was still an awe inspiring sight.
  • Insurance myths (Score:4, Interesting)

    by freeweed (309734) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @12:22AM (#15507579)
    Most insurance policies don't cover "acts of God" or even "natural disasters" of this type.

    Why do people still think we live in the 19th century?

    Insurance policies today typically cover most Acts of God. Hail, lightning, windstorm, water damage, you name it. What they don't cover is "catastrophes so big we'd need a few billion to even start paying claims".

    Hell, you can actually buy earthquake, tornado, and hurricane insurance, if you're willing to pay for it. However, your $400/year policy doesn't quite amoritize out to the 1 in 50 year chance of your part of the gulf coast being destroyed.

    For the record (and to stay on topic): impact by falling object is generally covered. Some go far enough to ensure you for falling aircraft (creepy), and possibly falling spacecraft (satellites is the idea, but who knows what will happen this July).

    And yes, I used to sell property insurance :)
  • by PapayaSF (721268) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @12:57AM (#15507673) Journal
    The evening of December 24th, 1995 I was soaking in one of the famous cliffside hot tubs at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. I heard a jetlike roar coming towards us from over the hills to the east. I looked up and saw, nearly overhead, what looked like the flame of welding torch, looking roughly an inch and a half or so long at arm's length, and quite low, perhaps 500-600 feet. At first I thought it was a jet fighter on afterburner, but I couldn't see a silhouette of an aircraft against the stars. As it passed over and out to sea, I saw it break into at least two pieces just before the flame went out. The pieces must have fallen into the water, but I didn't see or hear any splashes. Then I realized it was a meteor, and that I'd been close enough to hear it!

    Sadly, I was also the only person in the hot tubs geeky enough to look up and see the whole thing and to be totally thrilled by this experience....
  • by RsG (809189) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @02:01AM (#15507825)
    Perhaps you're mistaking entry mass for landing mass?

    A meteorite's surface vapourizes from reentry heat when it enters the atmosphere. If the meteorite is small enough, the entire object will be plasma long before it hits the ground; it takes a large or dense object to survive reentry, and even then much of it's mass is lost.

    That doesn't however mean that it disperses. There is at least one theory that a meteorite could hit the ground as a ball of plasma with a solid core, due to the surrounding air pressure preventing the superheated surface from dispersing even after it vapourizes. I seem to recall seeing this put forward for the Tunguska blast in Siberia. IANA Astrophysicist, so I don't know how fast the object would need to be moving, or how large it would have to be initially, to produce this effect.

    If that did happen, what would you use for your calculations? The mass of the meteorite wouldn't all be solid when it hit, and whatever material wasn't vapourized by descent or on impact would only make up a fraction of the mass present during the impact. The core might be 90kg, or 300kg, or whatever, but using that figure to calculated the speed the object on impact would be incorrect. You'd need to mass of the meteorite on reentry, minus whatever mass bled off during descent.

    However, I would agree that comparing the impact to an atomic bomb blast is silly. It's like comparing a firecracker explosion to a bullet impact - yes, you can say that one has X amount of energy and the other has Y (and you could probably calculate this by measuring the gunpowder present in each, and determining how much energy you get from burning it), but that comparison doesn't actually tell you anything useful, since the energy is applied in a very different fashion. It's comparing apples to oranges.
  • by innot (582843) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:08PM (#15509575)
    About 10 years ago, on a night flight, I saw a meteor scratch the atmosphere.
    It started of as an orange glowing object on the horizon and within about 20 seconds it flew directly over us, leaving a big trail of ionized air which continued to glow like an aurora for a few minutes.
    Coudn't see where it went thereafter (no rear view mirrors in the cockpit :-) but as it seemed to be traveling on a straight trajectory I assume that it left the atmosphere again. At first I thought it was a rocket, but it was to big for anything that would be fired over the Bay of Biscay.
    Hard to tell the size and distance of the object, but it looked a bit like the one Meteor captured on video as it flies over a mountain range.

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