Death from Above

He may be regarded as a chosen one by his villagers, whom God have wanted to take by himself, or seen as a pariah, for his very weird circumstantial death. Either way, his death has got many talking and some really scratching their heads. I am referring to non other than Mr Kamaraj from India, who died on the 6th of February after allegedly being hit by a meteorite.

Mr Kamaraj might have been having a very routine day, last Saturday when he was standing near Barathidhasan Engineering College cafeteria after his lunch. But at approximately 1230 pm, a meteorite fell to the ground and caused a huge explosion that rocked the nearby buildings and caused the windows to shatter in a 3 km radius. He was supposedly killed by the injuries sustained from the blast. The blast was suspected to be a terrorist attack, but after investigation from the police, and them finding no traces of explosive material, has ruled out a detonated bomb. And they also found a dark rock with a mass of 10g at the site of the explosion. This paired with a pock mark in the ground has made them suspect this to be a meteorite blast.

Although it is a sad day to be Mr Kamaraj, the whole phenomena has started minds to wonder. Associate professor Dipankar Banerjee of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), believes that the impact was caused by a random satellite junk and not a meteorite. He says this as most meteor showers and meteorite activities are usually tracked and predicted earlier. Yet, there was no predictions or indications of this one meteorite which was detected. This event reminded me of the Russian meteorite that exploded above the ground in 2013. That got me thinking, how come that one was not detected either?

The detection and tracking of meteors and meteorites are done by the Near Earth Objects (NEO) project which is financed by NASA. And after the famous 2013 meteorite that exploded over the Ural mountains, the scientists admitted that the tracking and prediction of meteors and meteorites are not an easy task. Most almost always manage to sneak in undetected. And if one is detected, like 2012 DA14, an asteroid that came so close to earth, it is mostly because they are repeated visitors. So the NEO program which is funded handsomely by NASA, are similar to an angler fishing in a lake. Sometimes a hit, sometimes a miss.

That started an alarm bell in my head thinking of an impending doom from a sneaky asteroid crashing in and letting us all relive the dinosaur moment. But further reading revealed that meteorites and meteors are fairly small and hence are sneaky. Larger asteroids are much easier to see when they are approaching us. So from now on, I’m going to pay very close attention to the lights I see at night. See if it gets bigger as the time goes by. Because as a citizen of this new world, I want to be ready with my handphone camera ready when the space rock hits the earth.

On this note, I would like to raise my glass of almost empty whisky, to Mr Kamaraj. I have no idea how you lived, but you sir certainly died a legend. RIP.can2icpw0ae02o2

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Pictures courtesy of https://twitter.com/itsprashanth
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The rock! courtesy of BBC.com

 

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