“to actually see this object before it gets to the Earth’s atmosphere and then to follow it in..”

As I mentioned at the time, there was very little warning before asteroid 2008 TC3 slammed into the Earth’s atmosphere and exploded around 37km above Sudan. But, as the BBC reports, there was enough time for some fortuitously placed astronomers from Queen’s University and the Armagh Observatory to use the William Herschel Telescope on La Palma to capture, according to the BBC report, “the only spectrum” [of reflected sunlight] from the asteroid before it entered the atmosphere. Hmm.. Anyway, spectra from the asteroid have been used to compare collected fragments found in the Nubian desert, confirming 2008 TC3 as “a rare type called F-class, corresponding to dark ureilite achondrite meteorites with a texture and composition unlike any other ureilite meteorites found on earth before”, and the astronomers are cited in the Nature report. BBC NI’s Science correspondent Mike McKimm’s Newsline report is available here. And Science News has more. From the online BBC report

Comparing the asteroid and meteorite data tells us that 2008 TC3 may have only spent a few million years existing in the inner Solar system before it hit our planet.

Thankfully, this Near Earth Object wasn’t another Tunguska.. [Nor a visitation from the god Ogdy – Ed] Indeed. Although, as The Times reports, 2008 TC3 might be related to 1998 KU2.. “which was more than 1.6 miles long..” Here’s David Yeomans of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory again.

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  • Hercules

    I am a sucker for these heavenly events. Keep news of them coming. We recently acquired a 4.5/5.0 inch reflector telescope. Now just waiting for a clear night sky.

  • I camped out on the Sahara south of Tripoli one night with friends traveling south to Gadames in the early 80s and found a strange rock there that was black and chinked like chain metal when you struck two pieces together. It was smooth as if molten and was quite heavy in the hand.

    There was a lot of it lying around.

    Might it have been meteorite material?

  • Pete Baker

    Possibly, Malachi.

    Deserts are considered good hunting grounds for meteorites.

    Although if it was abundant in the area it might have been from another source.

    Here’s a list of quick questions to help identify suspected meteorite specimens.

    And some examples of different types of meteorites.

  • Niall

    Hercules, keep an eye on the sky for us, will you? We’ve had two near misses in March alone – both were around the 0.2 LD mark (Lunar Distance) – the second one was only twice the distance of some satellites…