News & Blogs
|Posted by Gary Robusto on July 31, 2013 at 12:50 AM|
We all should have learned early on that when a spacecraft manned by humans returns to Earth that the re-entry into our atmosphere was possibly the most dangerous moment for the astronauts (taking off was scary too.) Early spacecraft looked like a triangle from the side and the bottom portion was the heat shield which is the most protected area and the leading edge of re-entry. This heat shield was made of a Silica-Fiber resin and be able to withstand temperatures of up to 2,300F degrees. After a while it became pretty easy for our engineers to determine at what angle and speed that it would be necessary to enter the atmosphere successfully after orbit. When we went to the Moon, the craft returned at a higher speed and different trajectory and it became critical again. A miscalculation here would cause the craft to skip off the atmosphere and out into deep space like a flat stone on water or cause the craft to come in at too steep of an angle and burn up in re-entry.
Asteroids have the same problem. First a few definitions:
Asteroids - pieces of debris left over from the formation of our solar system.
Meteor - An asteroid that enters the Earth's atmosphere.
Meteorite - The remnants of a meteor that has burned and struck the Earth.
When a meteor strikes the Earth's atmosphere, it creates a shockwave that will wrap around it. (This same shockwave causes radio transmissions to fail from any spacecraft preventing communication during re-entry.) Take a baseball and throw it as hard as you can at a still swimming pool. If you were to film this and rfeplay in slow motion, you will see the water evacuate in the area of the hit and literally see a shockwave form around the ball. This is like the effect of a meteor striking the atmosphere. The effect would be so monumental that the air would heat up around the meteor and actually burn and create different colors doing so. The meteor would also heat and the chemical structure within it would also burn. The actual color seen would be influenced by the compression and heating of the atmosphere as it strikes then continues downward slowing as it goes.The colors created would reveal the composition of the meteor like:
orange/yellow - Sodium
yellow - Iron
blue/green - Copper
purple - Platinum
red - Silicates (The most abundant elements in the Earth's crust are oxygen (46.6%) and silicon (27.7%). Minerals which combine these two elements are called silicates.)
When I was in Chemistry class, one of the tasks that we performed was to take a sample that we were provided, burn it with a Bunson Burner and record the color changes. This color would reveal the composition of the compound or metal. NO, we could not put the sample into a Mass Spectrometer. This was before electricity was invented and there was no place to plug it in. Besides what would we learn by reading off the results on a printout.
As these chemicals burn off, it may cause the meteor burn to change colors (as viewed from the Earth.) This may be upsetting to the viewer because it will look as if the falling craft/meteor is under intelligent control. As the meteor slows, pieces will likely be burning and falling off and may no longer be contained by the shockwave. This may look like craft taking off from the mothership. What about pieces flying off from the meteor as the shockwave lessens and dissipates. The pieces falling and burning off of the meteor are not perfect spheres or projectiles and these pieces will have an infinite amount of different shapes. Did you ever closely watch a Major League pitcher throw a baseball? Let's look a little closer at that now.
A curve ball is thrown when the pitcher spins the ball (perfectly round) as it is being thrown. The baseball will build up a high pressure on one side of the ball (compression of air) and on the other side of the ball will be a low pressure (rarefaction of air.) The higher pressure will force the ball toward the lower pressure - viola a curveball. (By the way this compression and rarefaction of air should mean something else to you - sound.) You have all heard about spitballs, doctoring the ball, adding foreign substances or cutting the ball. Throwing a baseball at 90MPH with the perfect sphere having something attached will cause the ball to act really weird and be unpredictable to hit or to control. Putting a slight cut in the ball will cause some really weird things to happen to this perfect sphere. If you are a budding pitcher - Umpires are on the lookout for curveballs that are too good to be true.
Now, what do you think could happen when an oddly shaped object that hits the atmosphere at 30 miles per second, starts heating up from the compression of the atmosphere then breaking apart as it slows? Really weird things I can assure you. A non-spherical object cast off from a meteor, will slow rapidly, tumble and be deflected into who knows what trajectory. It might spin away and up, stay alongside for a while or go straight down all the while burning and giving off light and scaring the heck out of anyone watching. Whatever you see from this could be one of the stranger sights that you have ever witnessed. This still remains a rock burning up and not a visit from an extra-terrestrial civilization.
Depending on where and how the meteor entered the atmosphere, it could present itself to you in any of 100 ways. It may look like landing lights from an airplane hovering in the air for a long time as it approaches you from up to 100 miles away to a streak across the sky at up to 50 miles above you. You can draw few conclusions from what you see except for the colors during the burn. It may do almost anything.
NOTE: a 90 degree turn during a high speed flyby could indicate something other than a meteor. I would hope at this time that you are filming this!
Tom Conwell, UFOlogist