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Asteroid the 'Size of a Minivan' Exploded Over California

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the alien-plot-to-assasinate-ken-grossman-foiled dept.

Space 279

astroengine writes, quoting Discovery: "The source of loud 'booms' accompanied by a bright object traveling through the skies of Nevada and California on Sunday morning has been confirmed: it was a meteor. A big one. It is thought to have been a small asteroid that slammed into the atmosphere at a speed of 15 kilometers per second (33,500 mph), turning into a fireball, delivering an energy of 3.8 kilotons of TNT as it broke up over California's Sierra Nevada mountains. Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, classified it as a 'big event.' 'I am not saying there was a 3.8 kiloton explosion on the ground in California,' Cooke told Spaceweather.com. 'I am saying that the meteor possessed this amount of energy before it broke apart in the atmosphere. (The map) shows the location of the atmospheric breakup, not impact with the ground.' Interestingly, this event was bigger than asteroid 2008 TC3 that exploded over the skies of Sudan in 2008 after being detected before it hit."

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279 comments

Exploding Minivans (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39778959)

Always said the damn things were dangerous

Lest I abduct you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779171)

Hey, stop talking trash about my spaceship.

Re:Lest I abduct you (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779551)

And don't pet my Mog.

Re:Exploding Minivans (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779309)

I for one welcome our new minivan overlords

mini (2)

schlachter (862210) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779311)

at least it was mini.

Re:Exploding Minivans (5, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779415)

It wasn't a minivan though... remember this thing was clocked at 33,000 mph. When's the last time you saw a minivan even doing the speed limit?

Chatting on a cellphone (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779625)

Typical minivan driver, didn't even see a planet that was, well, the size of a planet before it was too late.

How convenient. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39778963)

Planetary Resources has their big announce tomorrow. This was just the size they are looking for.

Re:How convenient. (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779003)

They are probably going to have to look for a different one.

Re:How convenient. (1)

bentcd (690786) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779557)

Planetary Resources has their big announce tomorrow. This was just the size they are looking for.

It seems devastating to their business plan though - why spend billions of dollars going out into space to fetch big rocks when they are coming to us?

My anus is the size of a minivan... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39778965)

...and it exploded over my toilet.

Re:My anus is the size of a minivan... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779025)

Now that's what I call a shitty post!

Going Down In Flames (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39778969)

Faster than Obama's chances at re-election.

Nice try, North Korea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39778973)

Your puny rockets will be shot down at every attempt.

Re:Nice try, North Korea! (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779069)

In North Korea, rockets shoot themselves down - well at least that seems to be the case so far. Oh, apart from that lovely satelite that is still broadcasting songs praising the Glorious Leader [wikipedia.org] - that one is obviously still there.

minivan (5, Funny)

quenda (644621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39778975)

For all the foreigners saying "WTF is a minivan?", it is a large family vehicle, smaller than a mini-bus, like a VW Transporter (Combi) , about 10 hogsheads or 0.00001 Libraries of Congress.

SI unit (5, Informative)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779001)

I think that the Minivan has joined Wales as effectively an SI unit. link [wikipedia.org]

Re:minivan (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779013)

Or they could just call it a "large MPV".

Re:minivan (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779015)

People carrier to the British.

Re:minivan (1)

EnempE (709151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779099)

If a mini-bus is smaller than a bus, then a mini van is smaller than a van. How big is a van ?

Is the order:
segway, moped, motorbike, motor-trike, smart car, mini, small car, car, family car, SUV, minivan, Bentley, van, mini-bus, bus, truck, one-tonner, 18 wheeler ?

Re:minivan (2)

quenda (644621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779177)

This [auto-rickshaw.com] is a real mini-van.

Re:minivan (1)

guises (2423402) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779219)

A Ford Econoline (typical van) is 236 cubic feet, but there's an extended version and other models get larger.

As for your list... sure, whatever.

Re:minivan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779399)

unicycle, tricycle, segway, bicycle, moped, motorbike, motor-trike, smart car, mini, small car, car, family car, Pickup Truck, SUV, minivan, Bentley, van, mini-bus, limousine, bus, truck, one-tonner, five tonner, 18 wheeler, Truck Double Trailer, Truck Triple Trailer

Re:minivan (1)

jaymemaurice (2024752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779633)

Depends where you are from... in the UAE, a Toyota Hiace is called a minibus but I'd imagine Americans would call it a small van... http://www.transad.ae/en/newsdata/9seater.aspx [transad.ae]

That's the problem with units of measurement based on things which are not common everywhere, like pure water.

Something missing.....;-) (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779711)

Is the order:
segway, moped, motorbike, motor-trike, smart car, mini, small car, car, family car, SUV, minivan, Bentley, van, mini-bus, bus, truck, one-tonner, 18 wheeler ?

Hey!!!
Where does a station wagon fit in there?
I've got a crap-load of discs to transport...I need the bandwidth, you insensitive clod!

Re:minivan (4, Funny)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779179)

For US residents that have trouble understanding metrics: it was traveling at 3 hours walking per second, considering you wouldn't stop once for fast food for those three hours. In those three hours, the meteor would have circled the earth four times at the speed of entry

Re:minivan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779235)

For US residents: It was traveling at more hours walking that you do in a week per second.

Re:minivan (4, Funny)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779543)

What is this "walking" you are talking about? Clearly you can not mean traveling by foot because not sane person would go that far without using a car. It would be utter nonsense to believe a normal human being could archive such a feat without collapsing.

Re:minivan (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779559)

Obviously someone drives to the mailbox.

Re:minivan (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779691)

And doing it in "The Minivan From Space" [tm]

Re:minivan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779613)

I have no concept how big "Circled the Earth" is? Can you express that in "Width's of America's?"

Re:minivan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779357)

I'm having a hard time seeing the "mini" in minivan anymore. They're all quite large now.

Re:minivan (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779507)

Another way of putting it is it's 2700 kilograms of steel for a soccer mom and one child passenger. You know, for safety.

Could I have that in Bay Area units? (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779641)

Forget hogsheads, how much is that in Priuses? Or Teslas?

American minivan, or European minivan? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779645)

Was this an American minivan, or a European one? (traces of Monty Python here...).

I'm sure an American minivan will be twice the size of a European one - and let's not even think about those super cool minivans you see in Tokyo....

UK minivan: 1.4 to 2 litre engine, room for 6 people, some bags.

US minivan? I'm guessing probably twice the size, air conditioning, armour plating, drinks coolers, on board home entertainment systems, 4 wheel drive.... ;-)

The truth! (5, Funny)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39778977)

This stinks of a coporate cover up. They don't want you to know this but it was actually a Toyota Prius with a hybrid nuclear/tachyon engine that accelerated out of control in the year 2052 due to a software glitch and traveled back in time and...well you can pretty much put the rest together.

Re:The truth! (1)

bejiitas_wrath (825021) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779035)

This stinks of a coporate cover up. They don't want you to know this but it was actually a Toyota Prius with a hybrid nuclear/tachyon engine that accelerated out of control in the year 2052 due to a software glitch and traveled back in time and...well you can pretty much put the rest together.

Those hooning kids. Racing around the sun in their hot rods and not knowing the dangers of travelling through time! Something must be done.

Re:The truth! (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779481)

My favorite part clearly is:

...well you can pretty much put the rest together.

How long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39778981)

Place your bets on how long 'til it hits eBay [goo.gl] - scam or not.

Re:How long... (3, Funny)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779575)

"Minivan from Space - bid starts at 20 000 $
Thats right the minivan you heard in the news. A unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of history and space.
Slight signs of usage from entering the earths atmosphere make it even more authentic" This is your chance to buy the Minivan from space[tm] [flickr.com]

Can't we detect something that size? (3, Interesting)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39778989)

NASA tracks space debris the size of a golf ball, why didn't they see this? This is yet another example of how asteroid detection need a higher priority.

Re:Can't we detect something that size? (5, Insightful)

quenda (644621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39778995)

NASA tracks space debris the size of a golf ball, why didn't they see this?

Because it was not in a low-earth orbit, and space is kind of big.

Re:Can't we detect something that size? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779247)

How big?

Re:Can't we detect something that size? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779279)

Re:Can't we detect something that size? (2)

Ruie (30480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779561)

It depends on what you are interested in. For detecting the asteroid a few meters a diameter within a ball that includes the Moon you would need to scan 2e18 one cubic meter positions every seven hours or so. I assumed that it is sufficient to scan a 1-meter deep shell around Earth.

If you now assume that you need only a nanosecond to tell whether there is an asteroid in a given 1 meter cube or not (which would correspond to spending a few CPU/FPGA cycles on processing) then you need to be able to process 80000 different positions simultaneously.

This is doable with modern technology, but rather expensive - think military size budget, not NASA size budget.

Re:Can't we detect something that size? (1)

user flynn (236683) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779277)

NASA tracks space debris the size of a golf ball, why didn't they see this?

Because it was not in a low-earth orbit, and space is kind of big.

I can't even see space. Pretty sure that means it's small, or maybe it's behind something big.

    Wow.. if space is big, and I give you the benefit of a doubt that it is, that means that whatever it's behind is humongous. You know, since we can't see it and all that. I don't know if you can see where this is going, but yo mama so big, she blockin' out space.

Re:Should have landed right on the tracking telesc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779441)

Just for dun: Should have landed right on the tracking telescope. So they can see it.

Re:Can't we detect something that size? (1)

jrbrtsn (103896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39778999)

NASA tracks space debris orbiting the earth. This asteroid was not orbiting the earth.

Re:Can't we detect something that size? (1)

Minupla (62455) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779537)

It is now - just a VERY low orbit!

Re:Can't we detect something that size? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779111)

Why? It's not like we can do anything. Personally, I would not like to know that a meteor is about to slam into the earth and end life as we know it.

Re:Can't we detect something that size? (4, Insightful)

Ruie (30480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779593)

Why? It's not like we can do anything. Personally, I would not like to know that a meteor is about to slam into the earth and end life as we know it.

We can tell people to move..

Actually, I would (3, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779653)

I can't remember the name, but there's a Larry Niven story about a similar incident (in this case the sun apparently going nova.) If you knew you had only 12 hours to live, what would you do?

Re:Can't we detect something that size? (3, Funny)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779239)

who says it wasnt tracked the whole 3 seconds it came into our range and blew up?

Re:Can't we detect something that size? (1)

ElRabbit (2624627) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779245)

NASA guys were looking for their golf ball at that time

Transformers (5, Funny)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | more than 2 years ago | (#39778993)

The Autobots have arrived!

Re:Transformers (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779029)

Which one becomes a minivan? My kid doesn't have that one.

Re:Transformers (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779581)

Bumblebee did put on some weight lately, but don't mention it when he's around.

Re:Transformers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779267)

Inquiring minds want to know... where was Bruce Willis when this happened?

Too bad (4, Insightful)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779009)

'I am not saying there was a 3.8 kiloton explosion on the ground in California,' Cooke told Spaceweather.com.

Love that he has to pre-empt the sound bite stupidity of the press. Too bad t won't work and they'll publish the stupid headline anyway.

Re:Too bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779167)

'I am ... saying there was a 3.8 kiloton explosion on the ground in California,' Cooke told Spaceweather.com.

Easy.

Re:Too bad (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779273)

Easier.

"... there was a 3.8 kiloton explosion on the ground in California," Cooke told Spaceweather.com.

Re:Too bad (2)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779509)

"... there was a 3.8 kiloton explosion on the ground in California," - over a quarter the strength of the Hiroshima atomic bomb - Cooke told Spaceweather.com.
Or: "There was an explosion of nuclear scale in California" blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah "... there was a 3.8 kiloton explosion on the ground in California," Cooke told Spaceweather.com. blah ....

Re:Too bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779651)

Cooke did not want to be quoted as saying that there was a 3.8 kiloton explosion on the ground in California. Commence conspiracy theories...

Re:Too bad (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779523)

I think you're actually managing to underestimate the media: it's pretty self-evident that no such explosion has taken place on the ground. Even the dumbest news organizations aren't going to bother reporting on it without some footage of an explosion site.

Re:Too bad (1)

fewnorms (630720) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779541)

I see you have not yet watched Fox News...

Melancholia (2)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779023)

Anyone who has an interest in things smashing in to the earth (I do, it's some kind of very fascinating thing for me see: Thanatos) I recommend you check out this film, ideally on a screen absoloutely as large as possible.

Re:Melancholia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779191)

I liked the movie, but my friends probably could have used some Prozac afterwards.

There goes the hope for Druidia (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779039)

It is easy to confuse a Winnebago for a mini-van.

How lethal is a meteorite fragment? (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779071)

Does the heat generated as it passes through the atmosphere kill off any organisms that might have been traveling along with it as it flew through the galaxy? Having passed through the cosmos for who only knows how long, would a meteorite chunk be radioactive at all?

Re:How lethal is a meteorite fragment? (2)

mattr (78516) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779125)

It is fairly easy to find this out from google.
Generally, no appreciable levels of radiation are found in meteorites. One meteorite which fell in Japan a few years ago had some measurable radioactivity.
http://www.meteoritelab.com/meteorites/#13 [meteoritelab.com]
http://earth.s.kanazawa-u.ac.jp/ishiwata/labo/neagariUS.html [kanazawa-u.ac.jp]

Re:How lethal is a meteorite fragment? (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779495)

While organisms are killed off there have been times where metors impacts have led to the illness and death of people and animals in the area. There was a recent example in south america a few years ago.

NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office (1)

Cl1mh4224rd (265427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779077)

Who else read that as "NASA's Metroid Environment Office"?

Now come on (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779081)

Where are the warmers to explain to us how global warming is responsible for an increase in meteor activity?

By sheer coincidence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779087)

A day later the government of North Korea acknowledged that they had lost track of a test nuclear missile fired around the same time as the asteroid strike.

Too bad the coasts were covered in fog... (2)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779113)

Unless you were in the desert, you didn't get to see it. We had a whole party set to go see the meteor shower; it should've been a great night for it, given the new moon. Too bad there were dense fog advisories all night. I've seen some pretty cool pictures from Arizona though.

It could have been a much bigger media event (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779127)

It hit in daylight over Reno-Tahoe.

Imagine if it had hit just a bit further west at night with clear weather. That would have resulted in a very bright flash at night and the aforementioned "rumbling and shaking" over the San Francisco Bay Area.

Now imagine that the orbital dynamics were such that this happened in 1982 instead of 2012. Then you get a bright flash and a rumble over a major metro area during the Cold War.

Re:It could have been a much bigger media event (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779389)

I thought it was just providing a good plot, like the various 1950s to 1960s b/w scifi films about atomic war and aliens. We really need a proper star wars program to shoot these rocks for fun. Why do we have war games, when they don't do anything but provide a distraction, like they did on 9/11?

Re:It could have been a much bigger media event (1)

Ruie (30480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779607)

It hit in daylight over Reno-Tahoe.

Imagine if it had hit just a bit further west at night with clear weather. That would have resulted in a very bright flash at night and the aforementioned "rumbling and shaking" over the San Francisco Bay Area.

Now imagine that the orbital dynamics were such that this happened in 1982 instead of 2012. Then you get a bright flash and a rumble over a major metro area during the Cold War.

No worries - that meteorites show up on radar (strongly) was well-known since World War 2.

Re:It could have been a much bigger media event (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779615)

Now imagine that the orbital dynamics were such that this happened in 1982 instead of 2012. Then you get a bright flash and a rumble over a major metro area during the Cold War.

And then the various systems designed to detect nuclear attacks remain stubbornly silent... And in the days after, no radioactive materials are detected...
 
So, it happening in the middle of the Cold War results in pretty much what's happening today, a few hours media sensation. (And much less of a sensation than today, since we weren't quite into the 24/7 news cycle era yet.)

Small != Big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779155)

"...it was a meteor. A big one. It is thought to have been a small asteroid..."

Re:Small != Big (2)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779207)

Most meteors you see are the size of grains of sand. This one was millions of times larger. "Millions of times larger than normal" is "a big one".

Re:Small != Big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779249)

Okay, so... It was a Ford Ranger. A big one. It is thought to have been a small pickup truck.

Re:Small != Big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779477)

Meteor != Meteoroid/Meteorite
Meteor/Meteoroid/Meteorite != Micrometeor

Most "meteors" YOU see that are the size of grains of sand are actually micrometeors/micrometeroids/micrometeorites.

Re:Small != Big (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779263)

Small asteroid [wikipedia.org] , specifically a meteoroid. Big meteor [wikipedia.org] .

Traditionally, small bodies orbiting the Sun were classified as asteroids, comets or meteoroids, with anything smaller than ten metres across being called a meteoroid. The term "asteroid" is ill-defined.

A meteor is the visible path of a meteoroid that has entered the Earth's atmosphere.

Two things holding up asteroid tracking (5, Insightful)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779373)

We need to start calling asteroids "terrorists" and there needs to be oil found on one. We can waste a trillion dollars fighting a handful of poorly funded religious zealots and yet we struggle to maintain even minimal funding to track objects that can easily take out a city if not most of the life on the planet. I keep hearing how rare they are yet there have been several of these high altitude bursts fairly recently and Tunguska was a little over a hundred years ago. If Tunguska sized blasts happen once in a hundred years aren't we due for one? Also how do we know? We haven't been keeping track of them for a hundred years and even historical evidence is sketchy. The planet would barely notice a city sized blast if there weren't large numbers of people below it. Also it's math not established fact. We can go 200 years with no major strikes then have a dozen in a single year then no more for a thousand years and the statistics may still call them once in a hundred year events. None of us may live to see one yet they can happen at any time. Kind of like a lottery you don't want to win.

Re:Two things holding up asteroid tracking (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779403)

"Space Terrorists"

Re:Two things holding up asteroid tracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779439)

Wow, user ID 2.6 million and you've already mastered the inane but deranged patter of a Slashdot veteran.

Re:Two things holding up asteroid tracking (2)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779449)

The future of Big Oil depends on us all getting killed by an asteroid smashing into earth. So they are not going to want to help out with this.

Random Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779387)

Since nobody else is really saying much of worth I have a question. I remember there was this German word that basically meant "The pain one feels at the difference between an ideal world and the world we live in", but I can't for the life of me remember wtf it was and my Google fu is failing me. Anybody know?

Re:Random Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39779451)

Weltschmerz? Weltanschauung?

Re:Random Question (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779533)

That would probably be "Weltschmerz"
Weltanschauung (as posted by AC) is the way you view the world. More like an ideology, but deeper.

Re:Random Question (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779673)

Polenüberfallensmittelverzekering? Strassenbahnhaltestellelieferungswagen?

And then some Dead Heads crawled out of the van, (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779435)

. . . bongs in hand, and loudly rasped, "Like, wow, man . . . "

Picture! (5, Informative)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779455)

Re:Picture! (0)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779505)

At the moment of this posting the link in parent post is SFW, Not Goatse, Not Tubgirl and Not Lemonparty. It is a picture of a meteor, although I haven't got enough info to know whether it's this one. I assume it is.

It bears the inofficial Neil Seal of Approval.

Disavow! Disavow! (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39779579)

Disavow! Disavow! :o)
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