Stars Fell on Alabama

Looking for Trouble
Credit B612 Foundation

Source :

Huntsville and north Alabama have always played a key role in sending people and machines into space, and apparently space is trying to return the favor.  On the evening of October 30th, at 5:30 PM, a sonic boom and fireball northwest of Cullman, Al signalled the arrival of meteor substantial enough to be tracked by doppler radar.  Now a team of 6 people from the Marshall Space flight Center Meteoroid Environment Office are searching  for the fragments of the meteor, which mostly likely came to earth after a long, slow journey from the main asteroid belt.

Alabama’s most personal contact with space came on November 30th, 1954 when Elizabeth Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama became the first confirmed case of a person being hit by a meteor, when an 8.5 lb rock crashed through her roof and struck her in the leg as she was sleeping.  Fortunately, she did not suffer any permanent injury.

Although small impacts occur daily at least somewhere on the planet,  incidents such as the Cullman event should serve as a reminder that we are only now beginning to understand that the inner solar system likely contains a much greater quantity of larger and more dangerous asteroids than once imagined. It also highlights the relevance of the B612 Foundation, and its Sentinel mission to chart these potentially world altering objects.

Fittingly,  the privately funded mission took a major step forward only hours before the Alabama meteor,  announcing an agreement with Ball Aerospace to develop the prototype infrared sensors for the spacecraft. Having built critical components for Hubble, Spitzer, Kepler and the Deep Impact spacecraft, the partnership with Ball is a strong indication of the technical strength of the project.

The Sentinel telescope will be placed into the same orbit as a Venus, allowing it an ideal vantage point to look outward at the field of potentially earth crossing asteroids.  Launch is currently scheduled in the 2017-2018 time frame, aboard  a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

About the Author:

2 Comments on "Stars Fell on Alabama"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Robt says:

    Post writing is also a excitement, if you be acquainted with after that you can write
    otherwise it is complicated to write.

  2. Pete says:

    Very interesting post…but let’s say Sentinel spots a rock headed here. What can we do, except warn the population? What would the population do then?

Post a Comment