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Just before dawn on Oct. 7, 2008, an SUV-sized asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere and exploded harmlessly over the Nubian Desert of northern Sudan. Scientists expected the asteroid, called 2008 TC3, had blown to dust in the resulting high-altitude fireball.
What happened next excited the scientific community.
Peter Jenniskens, a meteor astronomer with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, who works at NASA's Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, Calif., joined Muawia Shaddad of the University of Khartoum in Sudan to search for possible extraterrestrial remnants from the asteroid. A paper, featured as the cover story in the March 26 issue of the journal Nature documents their efforts.

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2008 TC3 meteorites
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The car-sized asteroid that exploded above the Nubian Desert last October was small compared to the dinosaur-killing, civilization-ending objects that still orbit the sun. But that didn't stop it from having a huge impact among scientists. This was the first instance of an asteroid spotted in space before falling to Earth.  Researchers rushed to collect the resulting meteorite debris, and a new paper in Nature reports on this first-ever opportunity to calibrate telescopic observations of a known asteroid with laboratory analyses of its fragments.

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Reports by scientists of meteorites striking Earth in the past have resembled police reports of so many muggings - the offenders came out of nowhere and then disappeared into the crowd, making it difficult to get more than very basic facts.
Now an international research team has been able to identify an asteroid in space before it entered Earth's atmosphere, enabling computers to determine its area of origin in the solar system as well as predict the arrival time and location on Earth of its shattered surviving parts.

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Surprise recovery of meteorites follow asteroid impact
The meteorites from 2008 TC3 are anomalous ureilites -dark, porous, and rich in highly cooked carbon. This new material may serve to rule out many theories about the origin of ureilites.

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322025main_treasure2-516.jpg
This space-based view of the Nubian Desert shows altitude in kilometers (in white circles) and meteor locations in red.
Credit NASA Ames/SETI/JPL

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NASA will hold a media teleconference on Wednesday, March 25, at 2 p.m. EDT to reveal science findings from recently discovered meteorites. The meteorites originate from a small asteroid that entered Earth's atmosphere over the Nubian Desert of northern Sudan on Oct. 7, 2008. The discovery presents scientists with an unprecedented opportunity to understand these nomads of the solar system better.

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2008 TC3 meteorites
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The discovery of meteorites from an asteroid that exploded over Sudan in October completes an astronomical trifecta. For the first time, scientists have detected a space rock ahead of a collision with Earth, watched it streak through the atmosphere, and then recovered pieces of it. Analysis of the meteorites could shed light on conditions in the early solar system more than 4 billion years ago.
When the asteroid, called 2008 TC3, was discovered on 6 October last year, it was just 20 hours away from hitting Earth. Though the warning period was short, it was the first time a space rock had been found before it impacted the planet.

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Surprise Asteroid Underlines Need for Early Detection System
Astronomers are asking for additional funding to monitor asteroid activity with the hopes of detecting potentially devastating asteroids before its too late.

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On Oct. 8, a small asteroid exploded in the night sky in the Nubian Desert, at the northern edge of Sudan.
It blew with the force of a small nuclear weapon. But because it hit the Earth's atmosphere over a remote corner of the world, the best that most people saw of it was a fireball in the night sky.
But the crew of astronomers at the McCarthy Observatory in New Milford saw it pass as it headed toward its demise a half-world away. They got the last picture and the last accurate fix on the asteroid affectionately known as 2008 TC3 before it crashed and burned.

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Thanks all for the interest; this particularly obscure thread has so far had 64000 hits.
Further information and links can be found on wikipedia.

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Dear Blobrana,
thank you very much for all of the information you gave here. It has been a very, very good source to follow the events.

Just a small bit of additional info, there is the following (Astronomy Picture of the Day):
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap081108.html
whose caption reads: "On the Trail of 2008 TC3"

Best
Fioravante Patrone

2008tc3train7_elhassan800.jpg
Credit: Mohamed Elhassan Abdelatif Mahir (Noub NGO), Dr. Muawia H. Shaddad (Univ. Khartoum),
Dr. Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute/NASA Ames)


-- Edited by Blobrana at 21:28, 2008-11-08

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