Fireworks over Sudan?
ASTEROID IMPACT: If predictions were correct, asteroid 2008 TC3 hit Earth this morning (Oct. 7th at 0246 UT), exploding in the atmosphere over northern Sudan like a kiloton of TNT and creating a fireball as bright as a full Moon. Most of the 3-meter-wide asteroid would have vaporized in the atmosphere with only small pieces possibly reaching the ground as meteorites.
The view from asteroid 2008 TC3 in the minutes before it enters Earth's atmosphere. The point of entry is on the night side of Earth, so the brightness of Earth has been enhanced for the visualization. We don't know what the shape of 2008 TC3, so I've substituted a model of the asteroid Itokawa. The time rate is 20x normal.
The following potentially confirming report comes from Jacob Kuiper, General Aviation meteorologist at the National Weather Service in the Netherlands: "Half an hour before the predicted impact of asteroid 2008 TC3, I informed an official of Air-France-KLM at Amsterdam airport about the possibility that crews of their airliners in the vicinity of impact would have a chance to see a fireball. And it was a success! I have received confirmation that a KLM airliner, roughly 750 nautical miles southwest of the predicted atmospheric impact position, has observed a short flash just before the expected impact time 0246 UTC. Because of the distance, it was not a very large phenomenon, but still, a confirmation that some bright meteor has been seen in the predicted direction. Projected on an infrared satellite-image of Meteosat-7 of 0300 UTC, I have indicated the position of the plane (+) and the predicted impact area in Sudan (0)."
2008 TC3 was discovered on Oct. 6th by astronomers using the Mt. Lemmon telescope in Arizona as part of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey for near-Earth objects. Asteroids the size of 2008 TC3 hit Earth every few months, but this is the first time one has been discovered before it hit.
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