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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Apr > Apr 14

NASA Leonid Balloon Snagged Some Far-Out Meteoroids

From: Stig Agermose <stig.agermose@get2net.dk>
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 23:46:40 GMT
Fwd Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 08:20:10 -0400
Subject: NASA Leonid Balloon Snagged Some Far-Out Meteoroids

Source: Discovery (Channel) Online News,


Go to the site for NASA's animated sequence showing "microscopic
slices of an impact crater discovered on the xerogel capture
device. The crater measures 20-30 microns in diameter. The
animation shows the crater at various depths."



Tuesday, April 13, 1999

Leonid Meteor Results In


For the first time ever, astronomers may have snagged meteoroids
that originated outside the orbit of Uranus.

At the NASA/Ames Leonid Workshop Tuesday, astronomer David
Noever and his colleagues from the Marshall Space Flight Center
describe tiny particles captured in flight above Earth.

The study shows promise for an innovative method of meteoroid
retrieval, and takes scientists closer to understanding the
solar system at its adolescence.

Astronomers set the meteoroid trap by launching a weather
balloon 12 miles into the atmosphere during the Leonid meteor
shower last November. The event occurs once a year as Earth
passes through the debris trail left by Comet Temple-Tuttle.
Secured below the balloon were a digital video camera and a
micrometeorite collector made of a gel-like material.

"Mainly, we were trying to answer whether this was a viable way
of capturing meteoroids," says Noever.

When the team retrieved the balloon and examined the xerogel
dust collector with an electron microscope, they discovered
eight tiny impact craters. Several clues pointed to an
extraterrestrial origin for the impactors.

The chemical signature was different from terrestrial dust but
similar to cosmic dust found in ocean cores and in Antarctica.
Also, the particles had a translucent rim surrounding an opaque
core -- a characteristic of cosmic grains partially melted by
fri ction in Earth's atmosphere.

"They fit the signature you would hope of extraterrestrial
origin," says Noever.

But, says Noever, the particles need further analysis to confirm
their origin. If they are from Comet-Temple Tuttle, they will
provide an extraordinary clue to Earth's own beginnings.

"We believe that the material brought in to the inner solar
system...more closely resembles the stuff of when the solar
system was young," says astronomer John Horack of the Marshall
Space Flight Center. "By getting these materials and putting
them in you r lab, you can understand what the solar system was
like when it was young."

By Tracy Staedter, Discovery Online News

Related Stories:

*The Leonids, Live

*Star Party!  


Animation: Courtesy of Marshall Space Flight Center

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