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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Armageddon 2
21 October 2013 3:00 pm
Want to know if that meteor that just struck Earth has a companion? Take a look at its trail. A new study shows that images of a meteor’s streak through the atmosphere taken by Earth-gazing probes, including weather satellites, can pin down the object’s orbit, enabling scientists to check and see whether another planet-threatening object is traveling in the same trajectory. The finding comes thanks to the almost-20-meter-wide meteoroid that blazed into Earth’s atmosphere in February and exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, damaging buildings there and injuring hundreds. Soon after it streaked over the country (main image)—in some cases, mere minutes later—a number of satellites snapped views of the trail from on high (example, inset). Analyses of those images enabled researchers to confirm the trail’s location, height, and orientation, which in turn allowed them to determine the orbit that the object had been following before it slammed into the atmosphere. The orbit estimated using satellite data alone reasonably matched the one estimated via ground-based videos, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In situations where objects enter Earth’s atmosphere in more remote locations—over the ocean far from land, for example—satellites may be the only sources of data that could be used to determine an object’s orbit. The threat to our planet from an object’s orbital companions isn’t merely an abstract concern, the researchers contend: One recent study suggests that about 15% of the asteroids that cross Earth’s path may be part of double or triple asteroid systems.