The tides of Venus

The tides of Venus

Is the sky falling on our heads?

This was my week.

Head buried in grant writing looks up
“Oh, the Pope has resigned.”
Goes back to writing, looks up a few days later
“Oh dear, it seems that everyone has been eating horse.”
Goes back to writing, looks up a couple of days later

“A FIREBALL OVER RUSSIA!”

Ok world, you’ve got my attention.

One piece of amazinf footage.

Courtesy of the smart-phone generation, the pictures and videos that captured the falling meteor are stunning and scary at the same time. Now, with over a thousand people known to have been hurt from the shockwave that proceeded, it’s perhaps a wake up call to all of us that we are vulnerable to objects from space.

Russia hasn’t been a stranger to meteoroids. One of last big meteoroids was the Tunguska event in 1908. Falling in a sparsely inhabited region of Siberia it still is the only entry of a large meteoroid we have in the modern era with first-hand accounts.

Like Friday’s meteor, most of it didn’t make landfall, exploding with a force big enough to fell 80 million trees.

Trees knocked over by the Tunguska blast. Photograph from the Soviet Academy of Science 1927 expedition led by Leonid Kulik. Wikipedia/CYD

The meteor that fell on Friday is thought to have been 7,000 tonnes before it plunged towards Earth.

The assessment of its size may change if any of the object survived and are recovered. Bits of meteoroids that survive the treacherous journey through our atmosphere to make landfall are known as meteorites.

Scientists have picked up many thousands of meteorites over the years, and found that their origins are many and varied.

From being the former interiors of ill-fated planets to containing the primordial stardust of which we are all made of.

Meteorites aren’t just rock - some are mostly metal, mixtures of iron and nickel. These are the class of meteorites that would have once been a planet core.

A very beautiful affect you get in these iron and nickel meteorites are Widmanstätten patterns. These patterns form over millions of years of cooling and are an effect of different crystal structures of two iron and nickle alloys separating out.

The beautiful Widmanstaetten patterns in the Staunton meteorite.

So it seems Asterix and Obelix were right to worry, but don’t let it keep you up at night.

There’s still more chance of winning the lottery than being hit by something from space.