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Meteor Showers in late 2001

    Next month the Leonid meteor shower is predicted to be its worst since 1966.  I'm going to predict that several satellites in orbit around Earth are going to be destroyed.  I am "hoping" that they will be military satellites used to target human beings.  Hopefully the communication satellites stay up so people can stay in touch with each other as well as stay informed of all the really exciting news that will transpire.  (See updates at bottom.)

Satellites Play Crucial Roles in Air and Ground Battles
The war on terrorism will by fought from the air and on the ground and even with remote-control missiles, but all these efforts have one thing in common: They rely on satellites to find the enemy and provide secure lines of communication.

"From a military point of view, space is the ultimate high ground," says Air Force Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, SPACECOM commander in chief.

So as outer space increasingly becomes military space, SPACE.com presents this overview of how the military is commanding the skies and beyond.

Satellite-Guided Bomb Misses Target, Kills 4 Afghan Civilians
A misguided bomb that hit a residential area in Afghanistan Friday, apparently killing four people and wounding eight others, was one of a new breed of satellite-guided missiles designed to achieve greater accuracy.

The 2000-pound bomb, released by a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet, hit a residential area near Kabul Airport in Afghanistan at approximately 6:30 p.m. EDT on Oct. 12. The intended target was a military helicopter at the airport, about a mile away.

Satellites Face Worst Threat Since 1966 With November Meteors
24 September 2001
A severe meteor storm expected to peak in November will challenge the world's satellites with an unusually dense flurry of space dust, creating the greatest threat of a meteor impact since 1966, NASA scientists said Monday.

The Leonid meteor shower occurs annually but is forecast by some experts this year to be a storm unlike anything seen in recent decades. The last time the Leonids produced what astronomers call a storm, only a handful of satellites orbited Earth and confronted the threat.

Now, hundreds of satellites will be at risk, providing services ranging from pagers and television to weather forecasts and monitoring for potential nuclear blasts by rogue nations.

Forecasts for the number of meteors per hour during this year's peak on Nov. 18 range from 1,400 to 15,000, reflecting wide disagreement in methods used by various scientists to predict the potential of the November shower of "shooting stars."
 

    12/07/01 - While I would not expect the US government to announce that their military satellites were destroyed I'm disappointed that I didn't hear about any other satellites being destroyed during the Leonid shower.  I personally watched this fantastic display from Arches National Park in eastern Utah.  I saw as many as five at once and at least a few hundred over the span of three hours.  The picture on the right is from Arches where I watched the shower.  (Click the picture if you want to see a slideshow from my trip to Death Valley, Arches, Zion, and Bryce.)

    On the other hand there have been at least a couple of objects observed dropping out of the sky in the past week.  I recommend reading the articles I reference as well as my posts with a great deal of skepticism.  I personally have trouble believing anything that members of US government agencies report.  I'm not saying everything they report is a lie, I'm saying I think what they report 'will be a lie' if it supports their political agenda.  I search for other resources that either validate their statements or contradict them. 

Japanese Satellite Drops To Earth
04 December 2001
WASHINGTON -- Weighing in at over a ton, the Japanese Earth Resource Satellite-1 (JERS-1) plunged from orbit and reentered the Earth's atmosphere today. Pieces of the defunct spacecraft likely survived the fiery fall and hit Earth.

Another day, another fall

It seems that another fall of space junk caught the attention of skywatchers on December 1. A large display of falling objects blazed through clear skies over Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.

According to Nicholas Johnson, head of the space debris office at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Saturday's fall of space flotsam has been identified. It was an upper stage of the Russian Proton launch vehicle that inserted three GLONASS (navigation) satellites into orbit on December 1, he told SPACE.com.

Russia Launches Proton Rocket with Military Navigation Satellites Aboard - 01 December 2001

    8/13/02 - As far as things falling out of the sky you might find the following incident interesting for several reasons.  According to the Reuters and SPACE.com reports there were many witnesses in Australia that saw what they believe was a fiery meteor falling and causing two sonic booms.  What peaked my curiosity was that neither of those reports mentioned whether anyone was going out to investigate.  In fact the Reuter's story published on Yahoo! had a misleading headline and was placed in the fringe "Oddly Enough" section.  When I started searching Australian news sources did I find mention that anyone was going out to investigate a possible impact site.  The reason I'm posting this story on this page is that I think the object may have been a military satellite and that's one possible explanation for the relative obfuscation and dismissive nature of the reporting.  Of course it's also possible it was a meteor.  For my research on asteroids, comets and meteors please see my Comet page.

Boulder-Size Meteor Almost Struck Australia?
Reuters, Fri Sep 6,12:09 PM ET

Large Meteor May Have Struck Australia
By SPACE.com Staff, 06 September 2002

'Great fireball' spotted in South Australian skies
Posted: Fri, 6 Sep 2002 8:42 ACST
"It does sound like there could well have been an impact like that on the ground," he said.
He expects astronomers to begin their search for any remnants today.
But he says regardless of whether it hit the ground, it was an extremely rare event and will go down in history.
 

    Meteor/asteroid impacts appear to be occurring with increasing frequency.  Here are some news stories of additional possible impacts from around the world.  Unfortunately, for one reason or another confirmation from 'experts' is not as frequently reported.

Scientists Revise Odds of Asteroid Collision
Wed, Nov 20, 2002
"We estimate...that Tunguska-like [Siberia] events occur about once every 1,000 years," said Peter Brown, of the University of Western Ontario.

However, other researchers said Brown's estimate may be subject to unexpected changes, such as an uncharted comet moving closer to Earth and showering the atmosphere with fragments of varying sizes.

"The study assumes the flux of asteroids and comets that we have been observing over the last 20 to 30 years always remains the same, a basic assumption that is regarded among some astronomers with some skepticism," said Benny Peiser, an anthropologist at John Moores University in Liverpool, England, who leads an international forum on the threat posed by asteroids.

DoD Satellite Tracked Siberian Fireball that Might have Hit Earth
14 October 2002
“The U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed an apparent space rock that lit a fire in the night sky above a remote region of Siberia last month. Meanwhile, scientists struggle to pin down whether or not the object slammed into the planet.”

Cash plea for Russian meteor chasers
Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Scientists investigating what is believed to be a "significant" fresh meteor crater in a remote part of Siberia are begging for funds to mount an expedition.

A British meteorite expert has called on the international scientific community to help Russian scientists get to the impact site, which may be of major scientific importance.



Westerners report green, purple flaming meteor
CNN.com/US, Monday, October 7, 2002 Posted: 9:20 AM EDT (1320 GMT)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- It's happened again.
Posted: 5:17 a.m. MDT October 8, 2002
“A fireball shot through the Colorado sky Monday evening for the second consecutive night at nearly the same time. The second meteor was spotted around 7:15 p.m., but traveling in a different direction than the meteor that fell Sunday night, 7NEWS reported. Monday's meteor was traveling towards New Mexico, and was described as blue-green with a yellowish tail.”

'Meteor' lights up Midlands
BBC/England, Sunday, 6 October, 2002, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
“A burning object seen streaking across West Midlands skies on Sunday morning may have been a meteor, astronomers have said. The streaking fireball was seen heading south shortly before 0600 BST. Its passage was followed by a bright flash which lit up the sky.”

'Meteor' caused Israeli plane alert
Saturday, 6 July, 2002, 22:34 GMT 23:34 UK
“Ukrainian officials say the "strong flash" reported by the pilot of an Israeli plane over Ukraine on Thursday was probably caused by a meteor entering the atmosphere. In a statement on Saturday, the Ukrainian defence ministry said no missiles had been fired in the area at the time.”

Asteroids 'could trigger nuclear war'
Monday, 15 July, 2002, 01:01 GMT 02:01 UK
A small asteroid could accidentally trigger a nuclear war if mistaken for a missile strike, experts have warned.

Scientists and military chiefs studying the threat are calling for a global warning centre to be set up to inform governments immediately of asteroid impacts.

The risk is seen as particularly grave if an asteroid blast were to happen in areas of military tension, such as over nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan

Each year about 30 asteroids several metres in length pierce the atmosphere and explode, with even the smaller sized ones unleashing as much energy as the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in Japan.

Asteroids and Secrecy: If End is Nigh, Do You Want to Know?
By Robert Roy Britt, 24 February 2003
Suppose a giant asteroid is heading toward Earth right now. Impact is certain. The consequences are expected to be globally devastating, with the human race among the casualties. The chances of doing anything about it are zero, the government decides.

Would you want to know?

According to some articles, the U.S. Government has been advised to withhold information of a catastrophic impact, were one ever found to be imminent. The Times of London put this headline above its story: "Don't Tell Public of Doomsday Asteroid."

Real threat
Over time, orbits change, however. Asteroids that aren't threatening now might become so in a few centuries or millennia. All leading experts, Morrison included, agree that Earth will eventually get pummeled again by a 1-kilometer-wide (0.62-mile) object or bigger. Civilization might teeter. Odds are very slim, however, that it will happen in any given year or century.

It could come next year, or not for a million years.

The panic myth
At the heart of Sommer's case is how people would respond to the knowledge of looming cataclysm.
Lee Clarke, who advocates asteroid-mitigation planning, spoke at the AAAS asteroid symposium, too. The Rutgers University sociologist studies big-time catastrophes and the supposed public panic that comes with them. He says the whole concept that everyone freaks out is largely a myth.

"We have five decades of research on all kinds of disasters -- earthquakes, tornadoes, airplane crashes, etc. -- and people rarely lose control," Clarke said. "Policy-makers have yet to accept this. People are quite capable of following plans, even in the face of extreme calamities, but such plans must be there."

Clarke figures the worst thing governments could do is lose public trust by withholding information. But he points out that secrecy might appeal to some public officials.

"Keeping secret something potentially very dangerous is an idea that would resonate very well with the current administration in Washington," Clarke said. "It would probably resonate with most high-level decision makers."

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