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Possible Meteorite Leaves a Crater In Latvia 177

Several readers made sure we know about the possible meteorite that crashed into a field in northern Latvia yesterday. It left a crater 9m across and 3m deep according to the AP; 15m x 5m according to AFP; or 20m x 10m according to CNN. Sky News reporting includes a video recorded while approaching the smoking crater on foot; something is burning in its center. Xinhua has a brief mention with a good portrait of the crater in daylight, with people standing on its rim for perspective. Various outlets report that local authorities tested for radiation and found levels to be normal. Some quote an expert who estimates that, if it was a meteorite, it was probably around 1m in diameter when it hit. Update 16:40 GMT by SM: As many readers have pointed out, this has been declared a hoax.
Update: 10/27 16:41 GMT by KD : Swedish mobile phone operator Tele2 has now fessed up to pulling off the hoax.
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Possible Meteorite Leaves a Crater In Latvia

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  • by nizo (81281) * on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:30AM (#29872227) Homepage Journal

    If it is a cylinder from Mars we need to nuke it immediately.

  • Hoax (Score:5, Informative)

    by NtroP (649992) on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:31AM (#29872239)
    It's been reported as a hoax.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365)
      Everything has been reported as a hoax at one time or another. Do you have a source?
    • Re:Hoax (Score:4, Informative)

      by arose (644256) on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:35AM (#29872281)
      Yep, apparently they found shovel and foot prints as well as rocks that have been dug around and aluminum powder.
      • Aluminum powder? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JSBiff (87824)

        Is Aluminum a part of some common explosive or something?

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Thermite, perhaps?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by arose (644256)
          I think the main point was that it is not found in meteorites. Also, as the AC mentioned, it's part of thermite.
          • I didn't realize thermite was explosive? I thought it just burned really hot? I've heard of it being used for certain types of welding processes (like railroad tracks), and I've heard of it being used during WW2 to disable enemy artillery pieces (either by welding the aiming mechanism for the gun so it couldn't be re-aimed, or by melting the barrel, so that it was fouled up enough that shells couldn't be safely fired out of the gun [because the shell might get stuck in the barrel, leading to the kinetic ene

            • Why would the thermite need to be explosive? For a burning/smoldering effect, there's no need for an explosion.
              • It might be helpful to the process of getting all of the dirt out of the hole, though.
              • by JSBiff (87824)

                Ahh, well, I was asking about an explosive in my original post (with the thought that the explosive might have been used to create the crater in the first place, if it wasn't just all dug out with shovels). After asking about explosives, someone mentioned Thermite, so I was trying to figure out if they were suggesting the Thermite was used as an explosive. You ask a question, you get an answer, you think the answer is in response to *that question*, but I guess maybe it wasn't.

        • Yes, Aluminum powder is a component in some easily homemade explosives. I won't go into more detail but the formula can easily be found with a Google search.
    • Re:Hoax (Score:5, Informative)

      by hammeraxe (1635169) on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:37AM (#29872305)
      It has been reported as hoax, indeed. http://www.delfi.lv/news/national/politics/zinatnieki-mazsalaca-visticamak-nav-nokritis.d?id=27621943 [delfi.lv] This is the original story in Latvian, although it does not seem very reliable to me. They claim that it is a strange coincidence that there was someone with a camera near the crash site, but hey, every kid's got a camera these days. I suppose we'll have to wait until the official investigation is over
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ramunas (771197)
      Well the hoaxiness of the incident is currently actively discussed. We'll know more when some actual scientists get to look at the thing. Meanwhile it's nice to be in the headlines for another reason than the economic meltdown.
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:31AM (#29872247)

    If it was Latveria, it'd probably be a precursor to Clobbering Time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mykepredko (40154)

      Maybe it should have been noted that the Latveria's regent (and leading scientist), Victor Von Doom, was quoted as saying "Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!".


    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gijoel (628142)
      Why the fuck is this marked insightful? Don't you kids read comics [wikipedia.org] anymore?

      And another thing get the hell off my lawn.
  • by INeededALogin (771371) on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:32AM (#29872251) Journal
    This is exactly what happened when the blob landed. I'm sure the local sherif just got absorbed.
  • FTFA, I can't help but notice... so where is this object that made the ~65 foot crater in the earth? I don't see it or anything of even substantial size in the crater hole to show what made that. I get the breakup that happens in the atmosphere, but there's nothing there to show what made the impact. Weird and spooky. Glad it's close to Halloween or I'd throw my 'conspiracy' flag up in the air in a heartbeat.
    • I'd imagine, it it was a meteorite, that it's still there, just pulverised into fine dust by the impact.

      Or someone took it home with them ;)

    • Meteorites are a lot smaller than the crater that they create. Eg, the Chicxulub crater in Mexico is over 180km in diameter and was created by an impactor (estimated to be) only about 10km in diameter. The blob of burning stuff in the middle (though exposed as a fake) is presumably supposed to be the meteorite and about the right size when put in context.
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Where's the object that made crater lake or the huge crater in Arizona? It's fricking all over the place in tiny pieces.

      BUT, this is not a real crater. Sorry but you don't get a hollywood looking burning pile in the middle. an impact that hard will disperse the "hot projectile" almost everywhere. PLUS, the size of the object o make such a small crater would be very tiny and certainly not cause the burning pile that huge in the middle as seen on the video.

      The whole thing is a poorly done joke. Glad to see

    • by Deadstick (535032)

      Folks raised much the same objection in regard to the big crater in Arizona...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor_crater


    • by mbone (558574)

      In craters caused by high velocity impacts, the impacting body is vaporized, and there isn't anything left to see. They hunted for the body that caused the Meteor Crater in Arizona for decades before that was realized.

      • by smoker2 (750216)
        Not true. In fact if you had ever been there, you would have seen the lump they have in the lobby of the information centre.
        • by mbone (558574)

          Yes, I have been there. They found maybe a few tons, including that piece. Barringer was looking for 300,000 tons, which was mostly vaporized.

    • by furby076 (1461805)
      It doesn't take a large object to create that kind of hole, in fact, it would have to be small. If you are looking for a rock the size of a car then the impact crater would be MUCH bigger. Also depending on the substance it could have melted, or disintigrated upon impact. The thing that makes it weird is there is a perfect circle, not angular in the least...the chances of that happening are very small (though anything is possible so it could have been). Another thing the scatter of dirt does not follow th
  • by Migraineman (632203) on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:43AM (#29872387)
    >Scientists and armed forces from the northern European nation will inspect the crater and conduct an investigation.

    Investigator #1: You there, the one with the vodka. Did you find anything?
    Scientist #1: [shakes head]
    Investigator #1: How about you? [points at soldier smoking a cigarette]
    Soldier #8: No.
    Investigator #1: What about that group over there [points to Latvians in the distance]
    Latvians: "mes nav atrasts sudi [google.com]"

    (surprisingly, Google has a Latvian-to-English translator.)
    • Man, you've got the grammar all wrong, my Latvian teacher would kill you if she saw this. It should be: "Ne sda ms neesam atradui"
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Google translator can't do most of grammar. As example, if you try to translate something on English to my language (Brazilian Portuguese), the grammar on process is killed without mercy. The same occurs on Brazilian to English
      • Google translates that as: Not SDA ms not found. Are you sure your Latvian teacher wasn't the equivalent of Peggy Hill?
        • by sopssa (1498795) *

          You start arguing about grammar and validity of translation based on Google Translate? Haven't seen this one before.

    • by AP31R0N (723649)

      Was one of the soldiers using a giant pick to comb the steppes?

      • I believe so. He may also have been substantially non-caucasian. (Thanks much for not criticizing my google-translator grammar.)
  • It left a crater 9m across and 3m deep according to the AP; 15m x 5m according to AFP; or 20m x 10m according to CNN.

    And it was 20 miles across and 10 miles deep according to Fox News. Billions were killed and the earth was thrown out of its orbit. News at 11.

  • Would love to see the Latvian version of a cynical dock worker with an equally cynical teenage son and a screaming little brat by his side driving to Riga.
    In Latvia, the tripods get you!

  • Bad astronomy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Monday October 26, 2009 @09:56AM (#29872579)
    As Phil Platt pointed out in his book, meteors (unless they're really huge) are typically cold to the touch by the time they hit the ground. Even if it had enough kinetic energy to make a huge crater, the meteor would have pulverised itself and its fragments quickly cooled. Check out his whole site at http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/index.html [badastronomy.com]

    I'm calling hoax on this one.
    • by furby076 (1461805)
      Wait, meteors that hit the ground are cold to the touch? That doesn't make sense - they enter the atmosphere, and as we know objects entering the atmosphere travel so fast that they get hot...real hot...so hot that our space ships need to have heat shields to keep the folks inside from getting burnt to a crisp...which makes it not cold to the touch. So when the rock hits the ground why would it become cold all of a sudden? Maybe if it sat around in cold climate for a while but after touch-down it should be
      • Re:Bad astronomy (Score:4, Informative)

        by careysub (976506) on Monday October 26, 2009 @12:54PM (#29874781)

        Wait, meteors that hit the ground are cold to the touch? That doesn't make sense - they enter the atmosphere, and as we know objects entering the atmosphere travel so fast that they get hot...real hot...so hot that our space ships need to have heat shields to keep the folks inside from getting burnt to a crisp...which makes it not cold to the touch. So when the rock hits the ground why would it become cold all of a sudden? Maybe if it sat around in cold climate for a while but after touch-down it should be very hot.

        There is a difference between a space vehicle, which is as light as possible and hollow, and a meteor which is solid rock (or, much more rarely, metal). The heat shield is thin and light (comparatively speaking) but keeps everything inside quite cool despite a very lengthy heating period (due to the shallow re-entry angle of manned vehicles, and most unmanned ones, which cannot stand severe deceleration forces).

        A meteor (one meter across or less) typically enters at a steep angle, decelerates rapidly (in several seconds) at a few hundred Gs, and becomes a rock falling under the influence of gravity through the lower atmosphere same as any other rock of similar size dropped from a high-altitude airplane.

        For those several seconds a very small part of the rock gets very hot indeed - a thin layer vaporizes, and a thin layer melts. But it is physically impossible for the bulk of the rock to get significantly heated in the few seconds of re-entry, conduction is far too slow. During the longer part of its descent (when it is simply falling through the air for a few tens of seconds), there is enough time for the thin molten surface layer to get cooled down to near normal temperatures by the cold airflow. Then when it hits the ground within a minute or two there is enough time for the icy cold interior to cool down the surface to frigid temperatures.

        The special effect of burning a pyrotechnic in the crater was perfect to take in the ignorant, but is laughable to anyone knowing something about meteors.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      How about thew chances of a meteor hitting the earth at exactly 90 degrees to make a circular crater are almost Zero.

      • by mbone (558574)

        Most high velocity impacts form more-or-less circular craters - it takes a very oblique impact to make the crater oblong.

  • by akpoff (683177) on Monday October 26, 2009 @10:05AM (#29872675) Homepage

    Bug: Place projectile weapon on the ground.
    Edgar: You can have my gun, when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.
    Bug: Your proposal is acceptable.

    Men in Black [imdb.com]

  • Meteorite should be cold ? But what makes a light ? Is that an Ice that makes up the light whan meteorite fall is observed? This one looks like a hoax as well: Tacoma Meteor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_OtbXmu9kg [youtube.com]
  • Yeah, I assume that if it is not a fake it would have made some noise to dig that crater. Plus the site is too clean in the surroundings.
  • Ares-1 is really a time ship and has left its impact crater before it has even taken off. Never mind Back to the Future, Back to Latvia FTW
  • The escape pod that was released from the imperial battlecruiser should have landed in Tatoonie. Leia pressed the wrong zip code and now it is landing in Latvia.
  • by Myion (1662861) on Monday October 26, 2009 @10:23AM (#29872877)
    I live in Latvia and sometimes wonder if my entire country isn't a badly played hoax.
  • If so, don't pop the spheres inside! Or the plants will grow into bizarre forms, the insects will inflate, the trees will start to twitch, and everything will smell nauseating, turn gray, be eaten away and glow with that same unearthly color.

    Good luck,

    H. P.

  • Stephen King in "Creepshow".
  • If this is in fact a hoax, would it be possible to see the hoaxers preperations on the crater through Google Earth? I doubt that the satellites scan that region enough, but it's worth a shot...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Lije Baley (88936)

      Yeah, maybe if they were working on it 2-5 years ago at the exact moment the Google Earth shot was taken.

  • ... while Estonians had their meteorite crater [wikipedia.org] for nearly three thousand years :-b

  • by recharged95 (782975) on Monday October 26, 2009 @11:40AM (#29873805) Journal
    It's obviously fake, if you've watched: Bad Boys, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Transformers 1 & 2, it's the same crater!.

    Bay needed a realistic crater look for all those freaking meteors hitting the Earth. So he spent millions building that thing and now it has to appear in every one of his movies to recoup the costs until 2012--then he can lend it to Emmerich for his 2012 followup (hence we know the 1st 2012 will suck without having the real crater and all CGI).
  • News for Nerds, Stuff that matters?

  • if only they had done a better fake.

  • Meteor finds YOU!

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981