Mars hit by once-in-8-million years comet dust shower

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A pristine distant comet created a once-in-8-million-year fireworks show above Mars last month. But no one got to see it live.

New NASA data from satellites circling Mars shows that when the comet named Siding Spring skimmed the red planet, tons of comet dust bombarded the Martian sky with thousands of fireballs an hour. It warped the Martian atmosphere leaving all sorts of metals and an eerie yellow afterglow on Oct. 19.

A meteor shower from magnesium, sodium, iron and five other metals may have been so heavy that it might be even considered a meteor storm, said University of Colorado scientist Nick Schneider. Spikes in magnesium physically changed the atmosphere around Mars, while sodium left a yellowish glow in the sky after the meteor showers finished, he said.

“It would have been truly stunning to the human eye,” said Schneider, who was the lead instrument scientist for one of NASA’s Martian satellites. “It would have been really mind-blowing.”

The best view would have been from the Martian surface, where NASA had the rovers Opportunity and Curiosity looking up. But the rovers could only take stills, said agency chief planetary scientist Jim Green. There was no video to capture the shooting stars that made it a spectacular light show.

Instead, NASA’s satellites recorded lots of scientific data, which allowed astronomers to describe what it must have been like.

The core of the spinning comet moved by Mars at more than 125,000 mph and could have been as large as 1.2 miles wide, astronomers said.

It was not only big, but the dust assault was far larger than NASA anticipated, Green said. NASA’s models estimated that the dust wouldn’t be enough to harm the satellites around Mars, but the agency moved them to the other side of the planet just in case. That turned out to be wise, he said.

The comet came from the Oort Cloud, which is at the very edge of our solar system.  Comets from there are rare so this was the type of event that happens once every 8 million years. And when they come toward the sun they aren’t as dusty as others, more pristine, astronomers said.

“We never before had the opportunity to observe an Oort Cloud comet up close,” Green said. “Instead of going to the comet, it came to us.”

 

 

West Virginia UFOs: 3 Football Field Sized Crafts Cruise Over Coal Mining Operation, Followed By A Fourth Smaller Craft

West Virginia UFO Charleston

Ten witnesses have been left rubbing their eyes after seeing at least three UFOs cruising the skies of West Virginia, ultimately followed by a fourth, smaller UFO. The West Virgina UFO sighting occurred October 12th around 10 pm West Virginia time, reports the International Business Times.

Those reporting the UFOs were all men, 10 of them, working at a coal plant on Winifrede Hollow Road near Marmet. The men reported first seeing three triangle-shaped UFO crafts of significant size. Marmet is located in Kanawha County, Virginia. The West Virgina UFO sighting has been registered with with Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) as Case #60631, and follows on the heels of other recent UFO sightings.

The ten men said all three of UFOs were moving silently over their West Virgina coal mining operation, and, stunningly, were about the size of football fields.

One of the working men that witnessed the UFOs spoke with Open Minds, explaining the situation and what he saw unfold before him.

“The plant was down and there was no noises anywhere. Me and nine other guys had just finished doing pipe repair and were standing outside leaning against trucks. One of the guys pointed up and said, ‘What is that?’”

The surprised group of West Virginia coal workers all responded with a collective look up into the sky, where they were stunned to see the first “triangle-shaped object outlined in whitelights the size of a football field coming up the hollow from the southwest.”

The southwest of West Virginia, from where the men witnessed the UFOs flying, is the town of Beckley, West Virginia.

“It might have been 300 to 500 feet above us,” said the West Virginia UFO witness. “It was moving very slow and made no noise. We watched for about 3 or 4 minutes as it disappeared over the trees.”

Then two more football field sized UFOs came over the horizon, reported the witnesses.

“A few minutes later another one showed up behind it – the same shape and size and no noise. Another one showed up after that, same as before.”

As if three UFOs wasn’t enough, the West Virginians then spotted a fourth, smaller UFO.

“After these three went by a small object with lots of red flashing appeared at the end of the line formation. They were all headed northwest towards Charleston, West Virginia.”

That that there were no sounds from the UFOs was particularly bewildering to the group of men.

“What was strange about the objects was that there was no noises whatsoever… to be as close as they were, and their sizes…”

Which definitely calls into question how popular culture has portrayed UFOs in films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

 

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