NASA Urges Vigilance For Weird Fireballs

from Discovery New

Fri Feb 24, 2012 07:00 AM ET
Content provided by SPACE.com Staff

Slow-moving meteors during February are a well-known phenomenon but astronomers are mystified as to where they come from.

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THE GIST

  • The strange deep-diving, slow-moving fireballs started falling on Feb. 1.
  • They range in size from basketballs to buses and some are thought to have dropped meteorites.
  • Astronomers know the objects originate in the asteroid belt, but little else is know

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A strange breed of fireball is streaking through the skies this month, and NASA is urging folks on the ground to take notice.

February’s fireballs — a term that describes meteors that appear brighter in the sky than Venus — aren’t more numerous than normal, but their appearance and trajectory are odd, experts say.

“These fireballs are particularly slow and penetrating,” meteor expert Peter Brown, a physics professor at the University of Western Ontario, said in a statement. “They hit the top of the atmosphere moving slower than 15 kilometers per second (33,500 mph), decelerate rapidly and make it to within 50 kilometers (31 miles) of Earth’s surface.” . . . Read Complete report

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