The Blinding Blue Light Of Asteroids

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Astronomers and physicists would have us believe these explosive displays of energy are caused entirely by friction against the atmosphere. I highly doubt that is the case.  Most of these rocks are rather small; far too small to create these kinds of displays by friction alone.  Many asteroid atmospheric explosions generate kiloton energies equivalent to nuclear bombs.

Why don’t space shuttle reentries create these massive fireballs?  Why don’t magnetic rail gun projectiles create these kinds of fireballs?  Why don’t ballistic missiles create these kinds of fireballs?

For comparison, here’s what a shuttle reentry looks like:

The blinding blue light is caused by electrical arcing.  The explosions are caused by the potential difference between the charged asteroid body passing through the Earth’s magnetic field.

An example of this would be the space tether experiment that placed a 12.5 mile long conducting wire in orbit through the Earth’s ionosphere.  Once it was deployed, the tether lit up like a Christmas tree, eventually melting itself and destroying the experiment. NASA states that, “The nature of the break suggested it was not caused by excessive tension, but rather that an electric current had melted the tether.”

Asteroids are chunks of iron that have accumulated a charge while in the plasma vacuum of space.  The Earth’s magnetic field is a natural defense mechanism against these charged space invaders.  This is why virtually no asteroids make it to Earth intact.  The Earth should be covered in impact creators, but it’s not.  Even the massive Tunguska explosion left virtually no trace of the asteroid that caused it.

The same principles of electric discharge that cause asteroids to explode in Earth’s atmosphere are also what cause comets to light up the night sky.  For more information on this subject, watch this documentary:

Michael Armstrong and Jim Payette discuss the problems with the standard model of meteoric impacts in the atmosphere:

The Peekskill Meteor

Bolides that flicker, flare up and explode as they streak toward the earth pose unanswered questions for scientists. Why do most meteors become visible to the eye when they are about 60 miles in altitude but a few appear at up to twice that height?  Why are some meteors accompanied by electrophonic sound that is simultaneous with their flaring up?

In the evening of October 9, 1992 a fireball appeared in the sky over West Virginia. This distinctively green-hued fireball traveled visibly over 700 km in 40+ seconds. Thousands of people saw it, and dozens reported observations that enabled scientists to determine its path and behavior. At least 16 different witnesses videotaped it.

At some point in its flight this meteoric fireball fragmented with significant longitudinal displacement of fragments and slight transverse displacement for some of the fragments, both of which can be seen in the photos above.  Before fragmentation, though, the meteoric fireball left a distinctly flickering wake trail.  Also during its flight the fireball flared twice dramatically, reaching a brightness exceeding that of a full moon. Some witnesses describe an explosive “pop” before it “burst into a rainbow of colors”.

One observer commented: “When I saw it, it was still in one piece. It was an electric lime green with tendril-like extensions. It did not look like it was burning up so much as undergoing an electrical interaction. In the photo after fragmentation, one can notice the electric coma on the lead meteor.”

Many witnesses described hearing electrostatic noises or “crackling” sounds just before and for several seconds after fragmentation. Since the fragmentation took place at an altitude of about 41.7 km (26 miles) in a vacuum where there is NOT enough atmosphere to carry sound, how did this electrophonic noise propagate for over 25 miles?

See  “Electrophonic sounds from large meteor fireballs”, Keay, Colin S.L., Meteoritics (ISSN 0026-1114), vol. 27, no. 2, June 1992, p. 144-148. Research supported by Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics, Queen Mary and Westfield College, and SERC.


Quote from the abstract of the article given on:


“Anomalous sounds from large meteor fireballs, anomalous because they are audible simultaneously with the sighting, have been a matter for debate for over two centuries. Only a minority of observers perceive them. Ten years ago a viable physical explanation was developed (Keay, 1980) which accounts for the phenomenon in terms of ELF/VLF radiation from the fireball plasma being transduced into acoustic waves whenever appropriate objects happen to be in the vicinity of an observer. This explanation has now been verified observationally and supported by other evidence including the study of meteor fireball light curves reported here”.

Astrophysicists try to calculate the original mass of the Peekskill bolide from the total energy released. They present a value range from 2 to 25 tons, but these calculations give no consideration to electric charge and electric forces. In the Electric Universe view, any object coming far from the earth would be charged differently. As it encounters lower layers of the Earth’s plasma sheath, the voltage between the object and the layer would increase and the object would begin to discharge visibly.

At first it would be surrounded by a “glow discharge”, a diffuse luminescence similar to St. Elmo’s fire or to high-altitude “elves”. As the voltage increased, the discharge would jump to “arc” mode, and the object would become an electrode at the focus of upper-atmospheric charge. At this point it would begin to ablate material in a discharge process as well as from velocity-caused air friction.

Since there is no indication of oxidizable elements associated with the recovered fragment, it is unlikely that the flareups were caused by chemical reaction. The most likely explanation is that of its running into a more highly charged region. Regardless, the total energy released would always be the combination of kinetic energy, chemical energy and electric energy.

One significant question needs to be answered. At about 50 km (31 miles) above the Earth’s surface, is there enough material in space to begin a friction ablation process for an object traveling 14.7km/s (32.9 thousand mph)? If not, one is justified to conclude that electrical interaction took place to initiate the glow and flareups. Others have misgivings concerning the adequacy of friction ablation, also. See:

Luminescence above 100 km (60 miles) has been noticed not only with meteors but also with spacecraft. Russian scientists in the 1960s noticed the sudden appearance of infrared radiation and light around their rockets between 100 and 160 km (60 to 100 miles).

One proposed explanation, with which the Electric Universe would agree, is that meteors (and spacecraft) trigger the formation of instabilities in plasma layers. The energy of the flickering and flaring, as well as of the low-frequency radiation, comes more from the ionospheric plasma than from the meteoroid. The meteors that we’ve come to think of as “burning up in the atmosphere” may instead be the targets of mini-thunderbolts from the ionosphere.

  • moto perpetuo

    There’s plenty that’s scientifically illiterate about this posting, but the most important point is this:

    The space shuttle reentry trajectory was chosen precisely to minimize friction. Its oblique approach to the atmosphere ensured that it did not burn up in a fiery ball.

    Asteroids, on the other hand, have no control over their trajectory so come in at a far steeper angle, producing the dramatic friction effects you see in the video.

    You talk about ‘arcing’, but it self-evidently *isn’t* arcing, since there is nothing to discharge to! Or is it discharging into thin air?

    Finally, you happily quote the NASA article on the space tether experiment without bothering to mention that subsequent experiment satisfactorily explained what happened – and without any need for fairy-tale space electricity.

    • It’s discharging into the atmosphere, like lightning. Friction wouldn’t create the flaring events. If it was friction alone, it would be a steady discharge, and it wouldn’t be a blinding flare of blue light.

      The asteroids are negatively charged bodies:….1..395C

      “Objects in plasma, such as planetary bodies in the solar wind, charge to a floating potential determined by the balance between charging currents in the local plasma environment. In cases where secondary electron emission and photoemission are weak, objects will become negatively charged due to electron collection and will be surrounded by a plasma sheath. ”

      Their plasma tail acts as a lightning rod as it pass through the atmosphere. The flares are electric arcing.

      As for the tether experiment, NASA had this to say:

      “Later vacuum-chamber experiments suggested that the unwinding of the reel uncovered pinholes in the insulation. That in itself would not have caused a major problem, because the ionosphere around the tether, under normal circumstance, was too rarefied to divert much of the current. However, the air trapped in the insulation changed that. As it bubbled out of the pinholes, the high voltage (“electric pressure”) of the nearby tether, about 3500 volts, converted it into a plasma (in a way similar to the ignition of a fluorescent tube), a relatively dense one and therefore a much better conductor of electricity.

      The instruments aboard the tether satelite showed that this plasma diverted through the pinhole about 1 ampere, a current comparable to that of a 100-watt bulb (but at 3500 volts!), to the metal of the shuttle and from there to the ionospheric return circuit. That current was enough to melt the cable.”

      • moto perpetuo

        “If it was friction alone, it would be a steady discharge, and it wouldn’t be a blinding flare of blue”

        Er, says who? You seem pretty sure of yourself for somebody who doesn’t study this stuff for a living. How do you know? Face it, that assertion is based on your preconceptions, nothing more. The color and intensity of the light emitted are dependent on all sorts of variables: velocity, size and shape of the object, its chemical composition and altitude. Funnily enough, a large, and mainly metallic object entering the atmosphere at 15,000 mph gets pretty damn hot. And at that sort of temperature a large lump of iron emits quite a lot of light. Ever wondered why nobody ever writes articles wondering where all the blinding light comes from? It’s because it’s not surprising.

        Your comparison with the Space Shuttle (which was piloted to minimize friction, and covered in a shield specifically designed to dissipate heat) is laughable.

        Oh yeah, and if you want to have any credibility commenting on this stuff, it helps to use the correct basic terminology. Asteroids are objects in orbit. This is a meteor..

        • ICBMS reach 15,000 mph and achieve temperatures of 11,000 degrees, and they have steep trajectories. I’ve never seen an ICBM reentry vehicle cause anything like we observe with meteors. I’m sure you’ll write that off too.

          • moto perpetuo

            You may be amazed to learn that ICBMs are *designed* to do that, and the vehicle’s shape and materials are chosen specifically to minimize friction and heating. Whereas meteors are large hunks of metallic rock with a large surface area presented to the atmosphere, ICBMs present a minimal, streamlined profile. But this glaring difference apparently hasn’t occurred to you.

            The funny thing here is that the rest of the world sees no problem here; it’s just your obsession with junk science that makes you come up with these fantasy theories.

          • You can believe that space rocks explode in the atmosphere with the force of a nuclear bomb from friction if you like. I just think my view is less ridiculous than your view.

          • moto perpetuo

            “You can believe that space rocks explode in the atmosphere with the force of a hydrogen bomb from friction if you like. I just think my view is less ridiculous than your view.”

            You’re welcome to your view, but it’s completely wrong. It’s quite straightforward to calculate the energy released when an object that size enters the atmosphere and disintegrates: the equations are not particularly complicated and rely only on classical principles.

          • Oh, well please show me the way then. I’m all ears.

            Show me where the EXPLOSIVE kiloton energies are created by disintegrating rock. According to those who ignore electrical contributions from the ionosphere, the rock is being crushed by friction.

            How does crushing cause kiloton levels of explosive energy? Show me the math on that. I’m sure someone must have published a paper on this, right?

          • moto perpetuo

            Not difficult.

            Here we go, this is high school physics. The meteor’s kinetic energy is given by the classical
            formula 0.5mv^2

            Taking NASA’s estimate of an object of 7000 metric tons
            traveling at 65,000 kph we get the following:

            E = 0.5 x 7000000 x (18055)^2

            E = 1.14 x 10^15 J

            Or, in other words, a shade over 1000 Terajoules. So a meteor the size of the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk possesses ~15 times the energy released by the explosion at Hiroshima. Of course the explosion witnessed was not that great, because a significant amount of energy was dissipated through friction and radiated away from the meteor before the explosion, and from the fragments afterward. But even if *most* of the energy is dissipated in other ways, there is still enough remaining to cause an explosion the size of a small thermonuclear device.

            As to why it explodes: when an object that size travels at that velocity through air, there are absolutely colossal forces on it, primarily air resistance, sufficient to cause complete spontaneous disintegration of the meteor. As a rough analogy, consider a heavy object landing on water. From a height of a few feet the object will break through the surface of the water, but from significant altitude the impact with water will be not much less different than landing on a hard surface. This phenomenon was encountered in the early days of experimental supersonic flight: before aerodynamics were sufficiently understood, some prototypes spontaneously disintegrated above a critical speed because of a phenomenon known as the ‘wall of air’, when air ceased to act as a fluid and became, in effect, a solid surface. The resistance forces on the meteor are just enormous, and its profile is not sufficiently aerodynamic to permit fluid flow around it: a ‘wall’ of compressed air at its front surface forms, compressing the core of the meteor and eventually causing it to explode.

          • That equation is for hitting an immovable object with no slow distance.

            If you take a 7000 tons and slam it into an immovable wall at 65,000 kph, I agree, you get a small scale nuclear explosion, but that’s not what’s happening here.

            In many cases, these explosions are happening with much smaller bodies at altitudes far to high to be attributable to atmospheric friction.


          • moto perpetuo

            “That equation is for hitting an immovable object with no slow distance.”

            No it isn’t. It’s the correct and only way to calculate a moving object’s kinetic energy (overlooking relativistic effects, which are negligible at these speeds). And as I explained, such an object could have lost most of its energy *before* disintegrating and still produce an explosion comparable to a small nuclear device.

            “If you take a 7000 tons and slam it into an immovable wall at 65,000 kph, I agree, you get a small scale nuclear explosion, but that’s not what’s happening here.”

            No, you’d get quite a *large* explosion, see calculation above.

          • Yeah, but its not releasing all of that kinetic energy at one shot, which is why my assertion is correct.

            And why should compression cause a detonation again? Explain that part to me again.

          • moto perpetuo

            “Yeah, but its not releasing all of that kinetic energy at one shot, which is why my assertion is correct.”

            *sigh* nope.

            As I’ve now typed twice: “such an object could have lost most of its energy *before* disintegrating and still produce an explosion comparable to a small nuclear device”

            It could release less than 5% of its total kinetic energy in one moment and still have the impact of a small nuclear warhead.

            “And why should compression cause a detonation again?”

            It’s a cascade event caused by compression forces. The force caused by air resistance is above the critical threshold required to break up even a stony/metallic object, and once there is more than one fragment the process accelerates rapidly.

            Here’s a relevant paper:

          • I added some commentary to the article for your consideration.

          • moto perpetuo

            Oh yeah, and I call BS on this, too:

            “It’s worth noting that the last shuttle explosion was caused by a high altitude electric discharge traveling down the plasma tail of the shuttle as it entered the atmosphere.”

            You’ve just made this up. It’s complete garbage. This is what actually happened, according to the CAIB:

            “The physical cause of the loss of Columbia and its crew was a breach in the Thermal Protection System on the leading edge of the left wing. The breach was initiated by a piece of insulating foam that separated from the left Bipod ramp of the External Tank and struck the wing in the vicinity of the lower half of Reinforced Carbon-Carbon panel 8 at 81.9 seconds after launch. During re-entry, this breach in the Thermal Protection System allowed superheated air to penetrate the leading-edge insulation and progressively melt the aluminum structure of the left wing, resulting in a weakening of the structure until increasing aerodynamic forces caused loss of control, failure of the wing, and breakup of the Orbiter.”

            There’s reams of data about this in the public domain, so it’s interesting that you’ve chosen to invent an alternative version to fit your theory.

          • You mean the space lightning bolt in the picture provided didn’t really happen just before the shuttle blew up. I’m just imagining things.

            Wal Thornhill did an article on this a while back.


          • moto perpetuo

            You see, this is classic electric universe nonsense: I saw something in a photo which looks like something else, so that’s what it must be. And then ignore the exhaustive evidence proving otherwise, from the debris to the photography and telemetry and everything else pointing to a more logical conclusion.

            If you choose to believe a single grainy photo and a maverick physicist rather than a detailed analysis of what happened, fine, go ahead.

          • Matthew Alexander

            It’s amazing to me to see the cloak of dishonesty that people devoted to orthodoxy wrap their brains in. Moto perpetuo, some day I wish for you to see yourself from my perspective. It will make you cry. You get owned every time you post here, and you lack the perspicacity to see it.