Tag Archives: Asteroid

The Tunguska Event

20 May

Just after 7 AM on June 30th 1908 a massive air blast occurred over Tunguska in Siberia – the Tunguska event – caused by a meteorite or comet fragment. The blast released the same amount of energy as 185 Hiroshima nuclear bombs. The object is thought to have been around 120 feet in diameter. It will happen again, it’s just a question of where and when… 

Ever since I first saw a picture of the flattened trees radiating out from a central location in a desolate region of Siberia when aged about 11, I was fascinated by what could have caused the devastation that occurred there in 1908. Various theories were put forward;

 A crashed UFO

A miniature black hole striking the Earth

Antimatter collision

Or of course an exploding comet fragment of meteorite.

Well, recently Italian scientists who have been searching for remnants and evidence of what could have caused the explosion, think they may have found evidence of a stony fragment at the bottom of lake Cheko. The story can be read HERE.

I also found a great U-Tube video taken from the wonderful Carl Sagan’s cosmos program. It’s not on long and well worth a watch.

 

Fascinated and equally concerned by the event, I decided to weave the facts into an action thriller, which turned into Robert Spire’s second adventure IMPACT POINT. Why not click on ‘Look Inside’ on the Amazon page and read the first few chapters…

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Blue Whales and Asteroids

25 Mar

An unlikely combination I appreciate, but nonetheless the title sums up the story line of IMPACT POINT Kindle Thriller. So, how can whales and rocks from space be connected?

Well for one, both blue whales and asteroids and comets are pretty rare, but unlike asteroids and comets, blue whales are unlikely to harm you, unless of course your name is Moby Dick. OK, so it wasn’t a blue whale that got him, but you know what I mean! On the other hand, if a large asteroid or comet strikes the Earth, we would all be vaporized, much like the dinosaurs were 65 million years ago.

First of all, some facts. The blue whale is the largest creature that has lived, yes, even bigger than any dinosaur that ever existed. There are estimated to be only around 5-12,000 blue whales left in the world’s oceans, down from around 200,000 – 250,000 back at the start of the Twentieth Century, before man hunted them to virtual extinction. Thankfully their numbers are now increasing, but they still face numerous threats from shipping, global warming, increasing levels of ocean noise and being attacked by its natural predator, the orca whale.

In IMPACT POINT, Robert Spire’s adventure is kick started after a blue whale beaches itself in front of him on his local stretch of Welsh coastline. A second whale is discovered in South Carolina in the USA. What is the connection? It transpires that both whales have ingested the mineral olivine, to discover why, you’ll have to read the book otherwise i’ll give away too many spoilers!  Suffice to say, Spire is helped in his task by marine biologist Dr Sally Rivea; her name is actually an anagram for Dr Sylvia Earle – American oceanographer and author of many a book on the world’s oceans and its lifeforms.

What about the space rocks? My fascination began long ago, when I first read about the massive comet that wiped out the dinosaurs. That comet is thought to have been 10 kilometers  wide and left an impact crater – the Chicxulub crater – 180 km in diameter and 10 km deep in the Yucatan Peninsular of Mexico, which just happens to be the ancient home of the Mayans, who just happen to foretell the end of the world in December 2012, but that’s another story…

Back to space rocks. First some facts.

Asteroids, leftovers from the formation of our solar system generally reside in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and there are millions of them.

Near Earth asteroids have orbits that take them close to the Earth. NASA has found 19,500 objects between 100 meters and 1000 meters in size to date. There are 981 over 1000 meters in size, with an estimated 70 objects over 1000 meters still undetected. In November 2011, an aircraft-sized asteroid 2005 YU55 passed by Earth at only 201,700 miles away, closer than the Moon!

The next closest approach that we know about will be Apophis, when on Friday, April 13th – yes, that’s the genuine date – it will pass by at only around 18,300 miles away, a very close shave. Needless to say, NASA are keeping a close eye on it!

Meteoroids are generally classified as space rocks less than 10 meters across – these are the shooting stars that people often spot streaking across the night sky.

Comets are icy bodies with nuclei – ranging from hundreds of meters to tens of kilometers across – comprised of ice, dust and rock. Just over 4000 are known about. The comet or asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was about 10 kilometers across.

Centaurs are objects that display characteristics of both comets and asteroids. They have unstable orbits that cross one or more of the giant planets. It is estimated there are about 44,000 of them with diameters over 1 kilometer.

Pholus, one such Centaur is thought to be partly composed of olivine.

So, if the above facts don’t scare you a little, try IMPACT POINT. Your thoughts when looking up at the night sky will never be the same again!

NASA’s Missing Moon Rocks.

21 Feb

“The US space agency Nasa recently announced that many of the Moon rocks brought back to Earth from two Apollo space missions have gone missing. They were given as gifts to the nations of the world. So what happened to them?

Towards the end of the Apollo 17 mission on 13 December 1972, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt – the last men to have set foot on the Moon – picked up a rock.

Cernan announced: “We’d like to share a piece of this rock with so many of the countries throughout the world.”

His wish was fulfilled.

President Richard Nixon ordered that the brick-sized rock be broken up into fragments and sent to 135 foreign heads of state and the 50 US states.

Each “goodwill Moon rock” was encased in a lucite ball and mounted on a wooden plaque with the recipient nations’ flag attached.

Moon rock collected during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 was also distributed to the same nations and US states.

There were 370 pieces gathered for this purpose from the two missions. Two hundred and seventy were given to nations of the world and 100 to the 50 US states.

But 184 of these are lost, stolen or unaccounted for – 160 around the world and 24 in the US.

The rocks were distributed to countries ranging from Afghanistan to Trinidad and Tobago.

“Gaddafi’s government was given two Moon rocks – they’re missing. Romania is missing its Apollo 17 goodwill Moon rock,” says Joseph Gutheinz Jr, the Texas-based lawyer and former Nasa agent, who has become known as the “Moon rock hunter”. His search continues… story credited to BBC News

Speaking of missing Moon rocks, New Robert Spire thriller IMPACT POINT out now on the Kindle involves Spire in the investigation of multiple blue whale deaths after two of the world’s largest ever creatures wash up on both sides of the Atlantic. The mystery deepens following the discovery of the mineral olivine in the mammal’s blood.

The death of philanthropist Julian Smithies in the USA opens up a new lead after a rare and valuable olivine-rich meteorite is stolen from his home.

Spire finds himself on a dangerous adventure as he and marine biologist Dr Sally Rivea travel to the Bahamas in an attempt to uncover the clues. The more they discover, the more the terrifying truth is revealed. Can the seemingly inevitable cataclysm be prevented?

Robert Spire’s latest adventure might be the world’s last…

Asteroid Grazes Earth

1 Feb

A 36 foot diameter asteroid flew past Earth on Friday 28th January at just 60,000 miles distant. For comparison purposes, the moon is only 250,000 miles away, so a very close shave!

Interested in an action-packed adventure with a similar theme? Get your hands on IMPACT POINT, out soon on Kindle.

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Impact Point: Action-Adventure Thriller. 2012; End Of The World?

21 Dec

Impact Point: Action-Adventure Thriller. 2012, the end of the world?

MYSTERIOUS WHALE DEATHS…

When the World’s largest ever creature – a blue whale – dies in front of Robert Spire on his local Welsh beach, the UKs Department of the Environment and local population are ill prepared. When a second whale washes up dead on Myrtle Beach on the opposite side of the Atlantic, the scientific community starts asking questions.

A QUEST FOR METEORITE FRAGMENTS…

Environmental lawyer Robert Spire; newly recruited to the UKs Global Environmental Command Unit – GLENCOM, flies over to South Carolina to investigate. Whilst there, he meets marine biologist Dr Sally Rivea, also assigned to the case. Meanwhile, ex-marine Travis Dexter is on the run in Nevada after he discovers the body of his employer – philanthropist Julian Smithies- murdered in his home. The only object missing is a recently discovered, rare and valuable meteorite.

A FUTURE GLOBAL CATACLYSM…

On the island of Andros In the Bahamas, four sport divers make a startling discovery at the bottom of Mystery Cave blue hole. Sixty miles offshore in the Caribbean Sea, drilling on the Proteus oil rig turns to disaster as the drill penetrates something hard on the ocean floor. Dr Rivea, at a loss to explain the high levels of the mineral olivine in the whale’s tissue samples, accompanies Spire to the Caribbean in search of answers, but what they discover doesn’t bear thinking about…