Amazing discovery! Asteroid impact sites identified using CSI techniques | Tech News

Amazing discovery! Asteroid impact sites identified using CSI techniques

The impact sites of asteroids were identified using CSI techniques usually used to solve crimes. Here's how the research took place.

| Updated on: Sep 06 2022, 16:30 IST
Asteroid fun facts in pics: NASA reveals all you need to know
1/5 Space is full of objects, out of which only a few have been discovered. Asteroids are some of these objects. If you are not aware about the dangerous objects called asteroids, here are some facts you should know. First, did you know that asteroids are sometimes called minor planets? Well, they are. (Pixabay)
2/5 Differences between an Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite: According to the information provided by NASA, Asteroid is a relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun. Comet is a relatively small, at times active, object whose ice can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas. Meteoroid is a small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun. Meteor is the light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere and vaporizes, in short, a shooting star. While, Meteorite is a meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth's atmosphere and lands upon the Earth's surface. (NASA)
3/5 Asteroid: Size, frequency and impact- More than 100 tons of dust and sand sized particles are bombarded towards Earth everyday, according to NASA. While, about once a year, an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth's atmosphere, creates an impressive fireball, and burns up before reaching the surface. Every 2,000 years or so, a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage to the area. Only once every few million years, an object large enough to threaten Earth's civilization comes along. Impact craters on Earth, the moon and other planetary bodies are evidence of these occurrences. Space rocks smaller than about 25 meters (about 82 feet) will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere and cause little or no damage. By comparison, asteroids that populate the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and pose no threat to Earth, can be as big as 940 kilometers (about 583 miles) across. (NASA)
4/5 How is an Asteroid Orbit Calculated? An asteroid's orbit is computed by finding the elliptical path about the sun that best fits the available observations of the object. That is, the object's computed path about the sun is adjusted until the predictions of where the asteroid should have appeared in the sky at several observed times match the positions where the object was actually observed to be at those same times. (Pixabay)
5/5 What is NASA doing to find and learn more about potentially hazardous asteroids and comets? NASA has established a Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), managed in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The PDCO ensures the early detection of potentially hazardous objects (PHOs) - asteroids and comets whose orbits are predicted to bring them within 0.05 Astronomical Units of Earth (5 million miles or 8 million kilometers) and of a size large enough to reach Earth's surface - that is, greater than approximately 30 to 50 meters. NASA tracks and characterizes these objects and issues warnings about potential impacts, providing timely and accurate information. NASA also leads the coordination of U.S. Government planning for response to an actual impact threat. (AFP)
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Check out how researchers studied asteroid impact sites using modern crime solving techniques. (Pixabay)

Asteroids have struck the Earth more than once in the last billion years. Some of them have changed the course of history. These space rocks are also the reason behind the extinction of dinosaurs. But how can asteroid impact craters, which struck the Earth thousands of years ago be identified? These researchers might have found an answer. In an astonishing development, a team of international researchers identified the impact sites of asteroids using CSI crime solving techniques.

According to the research, only 30 percent of Holocene asteroid impact craters have been identified in the last 11,650 years. The researchers used charcoal samples from crater sites to identify the asteroid impact. A recent article published in Geological Society of America's journal Geology explains that the bodies of organisms which died due to the asteroid impact can be analyzed to find out the extent of damage caused by the asteroid impact. By studying how an organism died, researchers can find out the conditions in which they were killed, which reflects the properties of an asteroid.

What does the research team say

Lead author of the study Dr. Ania Losiak, from the Institute of Geological Sciences, Polish Academy of Sciences and the University of Exeter told the University of Exeter website, "The properties of organisms turned into charcoal reflect the conditions in which they were killed.”

The team of researchers dug out four trenches around four craters. Dr. Jüri Plado and Dr. Argo Jõeleht of the research team found out that “surprisingly, in all those places we found the same thing: millimeter- to centimeter-sized pieces of charcoal intermixed within material ejected during its formation and located at the same place in respect to the crater.”

Dr. Ania Losiak said, "Those conditions, such as the heat the wood was exposed to or the duration of the heating, leave tell-tale signs in the material's structure. For example, charcoal from low-energy surface fires, like burning bushes and leaves, has different properties than charcoal from high-intensity wildfires.”

"Impact charcoals are very strange. They all look as if they were formed in much lower temperatures than wildfire charcoal, and they are all very similar to each other, while in a wildfire it is common to find strongly charred wood just next to barely affected branches,” she further added.

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First Published Date: 06 Sep, 16:30 IST