Academic journal article Science Scope

Google Earth Reveals Meteor Impact

Academic journal article Science Scope

Google Earth Reveals Meteor Impact

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

One day within the last several thousand years, a rare metallic meteorite travelling over 12,000 km/ hour smashed into Earth's surface near what is today the trackless border region between Egypt, Sudan, and Libya. The impact of the 1.3 m, 10-tonne chunk of iron generated a fireball and plume that would have been visible over 1,000 km away, and drilled a hole 16 m deep and 45 m wide into the rocky terrain.

Since then, the crater had sat undisturbed by Earth's geologic and climatic processes, which usually render all but invisible the very largest terrestrial impact craters. It was also, as far as is recorded, unseen by humans. But that changed in 2008, when the crater was spotted during a Google Earth study conducted by mineralologist Vincenzo De Michele, then with the Civico Museo di Storia Naturale in Milan, Italy. He was searching for natural features when by chance he saw the rounded impact crater on his computer screen. De Michele contacted an astrophysicist, Mario Di Martino, at the INAF (National Institute for Astrophysics) observatory in Turin, who, together with Luigi Folco of Siena's Museo Nazionale dell'Antartide, organized an expedition to the site in February of 2010. …

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