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Asteroid explosion was a whopper for Earth


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Lisa Wolfe
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« on: November 01, 2009, 06:26:37 pm »

Wall of secrecy
Why wasn't this asteroid observed before it hit?

Chapman of the Southwest Research Institute said he was not aware that the object was seen before it plowed into Earth's atmosphere.

"The body was large enough that some of the current Spaceguard Survey telescopes might have detected it a couple of days before it hit, were it coming from the night sky. But it struck during daytime and probably could not have been seen by those telescopes," Chapman explained.

A second question is whether it was detected by military satellites that monitor bright flashes in the Earth's atmosphere for defense and security purposes.

"Almost certainly it was detected and presumably immediately identified as an explosion of a large meteoroid rather than, say, an explosion of a human-made device in the atmosphere," Chapman figures. "But these satellites are secret and, in the past, the establishments controlling them have delayed releasing the data, for weeks or months."

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Earlier this year, Chapman added, a change in previous policy led the U.S. military to withhold the data from the public.

"Scientists hope that they will reverse that policy. This event will demonstrate whether the wall of secrecy is coming down again, or not," Chapman noted. "Evidently, because of the passage of weeks since the event, there has been no decision to release the data promptly."
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