Weekly News Round-up 15.02.13

Good morning! Its been yet another busy week in the lab here in Manchester. I’ve been zapping pieces of pyroxene from the Allegan and Dhofar 125 meteorites with my laser, and getting lovely I-Xe isochrons from them. Anyway, here are some of the interesting stories in the news this week.

Meteorite Hits Russia

Today’s first news item is breaking news this morning. A meteor shower has hit the Ural region of Russia this morning. A fireball was seen streaking through the sky, and the shockwave shook building and blew out windows. The sad news is that around 400 people are estimated to have been injured, mostly by falling glass – fortunately most of those hurt only suffered minor cuts and bruises, there don’t appear to have been any serious injuries. There’s a report on the BBC website and some videos of the fireball on The Guardian website.

What type of meteorite is it? Well we’ll only be able to answer that question if pieces of the meteorite itself are found, and can then be analysed.

Asteroid 2012 DA14

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass the Earth at a distance of just 27,700 km or 17,200 miles today, at a speed of 7.8 km/s or 17,450 miles/hour. This might sound a long way compared to the distance to the local supermarket, but is astronomical terms it is tiny. The asteroid is about 45m in diameter, and this is the closest to Earth an asteroid of that size has ever passed by – closer than the Moon and geosynchronous satellites. The good news is that there is no risk it will hit Earth.

The closest approach will be at 19:25 GMT this evening, and the asteroid should be visible if it is not too cloudy this evening. The Society for Popular Astronomy have a guide on how to spot the asteroid on their website. And just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate (which it rarely does in the UK) NASA’s JPL are broadcasting a live stream this evening on USTREAM.

Calling all budding Astronettes, Star-lettes and Cosmic Girls!

Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre are holding a Girls Night Out on Saturday 9th March. Unfortunately physics and astronomy are subjects that don’t attract a lot of women and girls, so Jodrell Bank are trying to tackle this and make it more accessible to females of all ages. Whether you are interested in astronomy as a career or hobby, they aim to make it enjoyable and interesting to everyone. This evening is an opportunity for women and girls of all ages to have fun and learn more about astronomy. The first of these events, in October 2012 was a great success (I particularly enjoyed decorating my cupcake with stars!)

Our Earth and Solar System ladies will be taking part in this event – we’ll be there with a selection of meteorites and moon rocks that visitors and examine, and on hand to chat with visitors about all things space-y. We’d love to see some of our followers there…

Further details, including information on how to buy tickets, are available from Jodrell Bank. Tickets are selling quickly (last time was a complete sell-out), so don’t wait too long to buy them…

Reg Turnill

And finally, in some sad news this week, the BBC reported that veteran aerospace correspondent Reg Turnill died at the age of 97. Reg reported for the BBC from the beginning of the space age, through the Apollo era, including breaking the news to the world that Apollo 13 was in trouble.

Our thoughts are with Mr Turnill’s family at this sad time.

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About Sarah Crowther

I'm a Post Doc in the Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry group. I study xenon isotope ratios using the RELAX mass spectrometer, to try to learn more about the origins and evolution of our solar system. I look at a wide range of samples from solar wind returned by NASA's Genesis mission to zircons (some of the oldest known terrestrial rocks), from meteorites to presolar grains.
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