Back on April 22, residents of California and Nevada had their day interrupted by a series of sonic booms and a huge daytime fireball in the sky, products of an incoming minivan-sized asteroid that came slamming into the atmosphere, breaking up on its way to the ground. The fireball ended its descent in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where some chunks of the asteroid have been recovered. But a joint SETI/NASA team thinks there's more asteroid to be found, and it has chartered a zeppelin to help them scour the ground from above.
The zeppelin, from Mountain View-based Airship Ventures, is allowing the researchers to hunt for asteroid fragments with a powerful optics system that allows them to zoom in on places of interest and evaluate potential fragments. If it appears there's something worth inspecting up close, they can radio to teams on the ground that can then go in for a closer look.
It's the first time a zeppelin has been used to search for asteroid fragments, and so far it's working fairly well. The team has identified about a dozen sites that need to be inspected, but have actually reached only two of them with ground teams thus far. At this point, the clock is ticking; the longer the fragments are on the ground and exposed to the elements, the more their chemical compositions--the aspect that interests the researchers most--will degrade.
So far, the largest sample of the asteroid collected weighs just 0.7 ounces. For a meteor big enough to create a huge daytime fireball like the one witnessed on April 22, the SETI/NASA team estimates that there must be some larger pieces out there. Such fragments could tell astronomers and geologists a good deal about the meteors and asteroids that populate our solar system, and how impacts like last month's originally brought elements like carbon--and possibly the ingredients for life itself--to Earth.
Rent a blimp to scavenge for a cosmic needle in the hay grass. Well, I wish them luck in finding where those cosmic cookies had crumbled.
Science sees no further than what it can sense, i.e. facts.
Religion sees beyond the senses, i.e. faith.
Open your mind and see!
That's not a Zeppelin, it's a blimp. Zeppelins are rigid airships this clearly is not. Cool story though. Good hunting to them.
That’s not a Blimp, it’s a space station.
It is not a blimp, it is in fact a semi-rigid airship produced by Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik GmbH.
Eine Luftschif? Verzihung.
I've heard that meteorites are well worth the effort it takes to find them for a prospector. What I'm curious about are the would-be buyers. I get it that they are highly valuable to schools of all levels; and in my April PopSci magazine there is an ad for a meteorite faced watch. Then there are private collectors, along with museum demand for top specimens, but it seems to me that there MUST BE some serious commercial or industrial applications as well. I'm gonna go chekque it out.
I'm interested to know why SETI is interested (besides the obvious, of course).
I see why NASA would be involved but SETI? I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist or anything but couldnt the search for a meteor be a cover for something else? Perhaps an alien spacecraft since SETI is involved. If your going to study alien life who else better to help you than SETI? But again, this is my opinion and I could be wrong.
Gee, couldn't they be in just for the fun of it?
If only there was a highly maneuverable vehicle that would allow them to search from the air and also land when a fragment is found ... oh wait, it's called a helicopter.
it is so obvious. they are clearly searching for a alien space ship that crashed not to long ago. "meteorites" are just a cover.
"religion is like a prison for the seekers of wisdom"
@ looiewu: No, SETI couldn't be involved 'just for the fun of it' because they have no FUNDING for pointless involvement. They have no CHARTER for pointless involvement. Oversight for the SETI program has always been extremely strict, and their funding is chopped at the slightest opportunity. So then, WHY SETI? The USGS, the Forest Service, even the Dept. of the Interior; sure, but SETI?
Quasi44: I agree... It makes me go HMMMMM bigtime to see SETI involved... What do they think fell from the sky? For SETI's non profit charter and private funding, it has to be something with ETI... I mean you dont ask people to donate for searching for ETI, then spend their money picking up non-eti space rocks. Funders get pissed and drop out fast.