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  Possible meteorite barely misses skydiver [video]

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Author Topic:   Possible meteorite barely misses skydiver [video]
SpaceAholic
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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
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posted 04-03-2014 05:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow! Meteorite narrowly misses Norwegian skydiver
A Norwegian man narrowly avoided being hit by a meteorite while skydiving and has captured the first ever video footage of a meteorite travelling through the air after its flame has gone out.

Anders Helstrup, who belongs to the Oslo Parachute Club said "I got the feeling that there was something, but I didn't register what was happening,"

"When we stopped the film, we could clearly see something that looked like a stone. At first it crossed my mind that it had been packed into a parachute, but it's simply too big for that."

JBoe
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posted 04-03-2014 05:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JBoe   Click Here to Email JBoe     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree... WOW! It's a good thing he had a camera; like me I wouldn't have even saw it.

mmmoo
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posted 04-03-2014 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mmmoo   Click Here to Email mmmoo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't for a minute believe this is a meteorite, but rather an object that fell from the plane at the same time as the skydivers jumped.

The object is on the exact same path and fell at the exact same time as the skydivers, and only passes the skydiver after his chute opens. Therefore if both the object and the skydiver left the plane at the same time, it looks like the object had been falling slightly slower than the heavier man, but overtook him when he was slowed down by his chute.

SpaceAholic
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posted 04-03-2014 07:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cant agree... the diver is actually in a glide well after departure from the aircraft.

lspooz
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posted 04-03-2014 07:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lspooz   Click Here to Email lspooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting — I'd argue that it seems doubtful it came from the same plane in the video, since while the skydiver's trajectory was initially head lined up with the front of the plane, the winged suit he was wearing should have yielded a slower fall with a bit more forward motion, compared to a dense rock (which I think would fall faster than a larger, albeit less-dense, human in a winged suit).

It also seems risky to agree to being under a rock big enough to catch on video (although skydivers are risk-takers...).

canyon42
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posted 04-03-2014 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Um, guys, aside from wind resistance, things in simple free-fall would be falling at pretty much the same rate, regardless of the weight of the man or the density of the rock. Galileo and all, you know?

Seen this story a couple of other places today. Not convinced one way or the other. The meteorite idea is a possibility — nothing that has been presented so far rules it out — but it's a pretty extraordinary one, and there are surely other explanations that have to be ruled out before something so incredible can be accepted as the truth.

lspooz
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From: Greensboro, NC USA
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posted 04-03-2014 09:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lspooz   Click Here to Email lspooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by canyon42:
Um, guys, aside from wind resistance, things in simple free-fall would be falling at pretty much the same rate, regardless of the weight of the man or the density of the rock.
I completely agree... but wind resistance is the crux, in that a typical rock (or iron lump) over 2-3 kg will have a higher terminal velocity than a skydiver. If not for wind resistance, we wouldn't have needed to wait so long for the feather and the hammer.

lspooz
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posted 04-03-2014 10:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lspooz   Click Here to Email lspooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Given that longer versions of this video show at least one other skydiver (who doesn't open his chute nearly as fast as the videographer) this is more likely a hoax...

gliderpilotuk
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posted 04-04-2014 09:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Was it filmed on April 1st?

Rusty53
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posted 04-04-2014 10:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rusty53     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The object looks fairly angular in shape. Wouldn't one expect it have rounded edges if it has just entered the atmosphere?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-04-2014 11:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gliderpilotuk:
Was it filmed on April 1st?
Apparently, it was filmed two years ago in the summer of 2012 and since then Helstrup has been working with the Natural History Museum in Oslo to try to verify what it was his camera caught before going public with it.

Whether or not it is a meteorite, the fact that he didn't rush to the media or try to cash in the video adds credibility to his sincerity (although that still doesn't rule it out from being a well-crated hoax).

James C
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posted 04-04-2014 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for James C   Click Here to Email James C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My first thought? It's going too slowly...

I'm happy to be corrected, and I haven't done any research to back this up, but in my mind, meteorites are travelling faster than that when they fall to earth.

Liembo
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posted 04-04-2014 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Why couldn't the pebble have come from his canopy? It only appears after it fully inflates, which could have loosened it from a fold it was bound up in. It was probably scooped up on his last landing and was packed into the chute.

Liembo
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posted 04-04-2014 01:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by James C:
It's going too slowly...
Terminal velocity for an object of that mass isn't going to be that high. It may have entered at a high rate of speed (or broken off a larger piece that broke up) but the drag of the thickening atmosphere will slow it down significantly.

bwhite1976
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From: belleville, IL USA
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posted 04-04-2014 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Liembo:
Why couldn't the pebble have come from his canopy?
I agree. My first impression after watching the video was that the object popped out or fell out of his chute once it started to unfurl. Where was the chute originally packed? Was it folded up on the ground where there is gravel/rocks present? Seems like a possibility.

Solarplexus
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posted 04-04-2014 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Solarplexus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some more info translated to English by Google.

YankeeClipper
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posted 04-04-2014 07:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As someone with a skydiver's licence, here's my initial thoughts.

Skydiving flight operations are generally regulated quite tightly by the relevant Aviation Authority in each country. Drop a rock like that out of an aircraft that can kill someone on the ground or seriously injure a parachutist under an open canopy and those responsible are highly likely to be grounded in short order. Can't see a jumpship pilot or loadmaster pulling a stunt like that. Skydive Arizona at Eloy have dropped all sorts of stuff from furniture to cars out of aircraft on "Junk Day" in the past, but that is into a designated area in the desert using very experienced guys.

Packing methods for Ram-Air main canopies vary from Precision Pack - Side Pack - Flat Pack - Pro Pack - Trash Pack etc. Flat Pack is performed with the canopy laid out on the ground versus Pro Pack which is performed with the canopy draped over your shoulder. A parachute system is a life-saving device - its airworthiness literally is the difference between life and death for a skydiver. Any sane skydiver packs his rig actively looking for defects in the harness, lines, toggles, canopy etc. It is highly unlikely that a rock would be packed into a chute and not felt, as a lot of air is systematically expelled from the canopy as it is carefully folded and re-folded before being compressed into the bag. The process is very hands-on and you would identify a foreign object like that pretty quickly.

Most normal canopy deployment altitudes are in the 1500-2500FT AGL range. In that low troposphere / planetary boundary layer, air resistance has a significant effect on the velocities of falling objects. The velocity and trajectory of the object do not appear consistent with the hypotheses that this rock originated from either the jumpship or the canopy.

I could be wrong but that is my initial thought process on the subject.

Ronpur
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posted 04-05-2014 08:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With them calling this as being 7x9 cm up to 18x24 cm makes it unlikely to have been accidentally packed, as was said in the original post. Two years of research on this and the fact that they are searching for it makes me lean towards this was real.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-05-2014 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Phil Plait weighs in:
...I have to admit the video does look legit. My default response is of course extreme skepticism; video hoaxes seem to outnumber real ones ten to one.

But my conclusion here is that unless this was faked outright — and there may simply be no way to ever know that — then this does show what appears to be a rock falling, and that means it may be a meteorite. It certainly looks that way!

YankeeClipper
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posted 04-05-2014 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Closer inspection and analysis of the lateral and vertical separation of the object when it first appears in frame lends even more weight to the hypothesis that this is a real meteorite.

Lunar rock nut
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posted 04-06-2014 06:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar rock nut   Click Here to Email Lunar rock nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rusty53:
Wouldn't one expect it have rounded edges if it has just entered the atmosphere?
Not necessarily. Meteoritic stones consist of many shapes. By the way, it is a meteor until ground contact. Then a space rock is termed a meteorite.

spaced out
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posted 04-06-2014 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In fact the shape is quite a good pointer away from this being a hoax.

Most people unfamiliar with real meteorites tend to picture them as roundish, often with little pockmarks on the surface, and usually as being red hot and trailing smoke or fire. Hence most amateur hoaxes would tend to show some or all of these features.

In fact most meteors fracture in the atmosphere into smaller angular pieces, often ending up looking much like the stone in the video.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 04-07-2014 05:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lunar rock nut:
By the way, it is a meteor until ground contact. Then a space rock is termed a meteorite.

Actually the rock itself is a meteoroid.
Meteor, when trailing a burning plume.
Meteorite, when it impacts with the ground.

mmmoo
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posted 04-07-2014 10:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mmmoo   Click Here to Email mmmoo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An update from Phil Plait.

YankeeClipper
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posted 04-07-2014 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would be very interesting to know the following:
  1. What environment was the rig packed in e.g. on a packing mat in a hangar or on grass?

  2. How was the main canopy packed - Flat or Pro?

  3. Surely there should be multiple examples of video footage of foreign debris falling out of RAM-air main cells if this is a common event?
The sort of typical debris that can fall on/close to a dropzone are wind drift indicators, jettisoned main canopies, small pilot chute handles, goggles, helmets, cameras, jewellery, coins. A foreign object like a rock packed into a parachute that stays lodged in a cell despite all the flaking, folding, smoothing, re-folding etc. might be possible but still seems unlikely.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-08-2014 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steinar Midtskogen, one of the people behind the video, has updated the story:
There is no meteorite. It was a rock accidentally packed into the parachute.

...we think we can reconstruct what happened: A pebble, a few cm in size at most, was accidentally caught inside the parachute at the landing site after the previous jump. Then the parachute was packed on a clean floor and the pebble was not noticed. Then Anders made the jump with the stowaway. This is a wingsuit dive and he’s travelling fast northwards at an downward angle of approximately 40 degrees. When he releases the parachute, the wind catches it and it shoots out to the south of him. The parachute is held back by the cords, but the pebble is not. The pebble is now increasingly getting further south and further above Anders. However, the parachute then slows Anders down, he makes a 250 degree clockwise rotation and at this moment the pebble happens overtake him. It had now been falling for a few seconds and was no longer accelerating much.

As Phil Plait points out, immediately before the rock flies past in the video, a second piece of debris just to the right of the skydiver's parachute strap is seen.
Literally a less than a second later the big chunk goes by, making it pretty clear they’re connected by the same event: the parachute unfurling. If they were both meteoroids, there is no way a smaller one would be so close to the bigger one; air resistance would have separated them by hundreds or thousands of meters by this point. The more logical and parsimonious explanation is that they came from the parachute itself, accidentally wrapped up with it when it was prepped for the jump.
Before today's news broke, S.G. Collins, the writer/director behind the popular "Moon Hoax Not" video, also chimed in with his own theory...

Lunar rock nut
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posted 04-09-2014 05:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar rock nut   Click Here to Email Lunar rock nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While reading the update by Phil Plait, I noticed the composite photo with the article. After looking at the composite photo with a magnifying glass I noticed the rock has nice clean greyish color on the large surface areas. A meteoroid would be blackened from a fresh fusion crust formation.

sprocketship
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posted 04-09-2014 02:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sprocketship     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm inclined to believe that this is a hoax. It all just seems a little too convenient.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-09-2014 03:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To what end?

The participants took two years to study the footage, then released the video in the hope of crowdsourcing an answer, did so, and accepted the explanation that it was not a meteorite but a rock.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 04-10-2014 05:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At first it crossed my mind that it had been packed into a parachute, but it's simply too big for that.
Should have looked up Occam's Razor on Wikipedia but then he wouldn't have had all that publicity.

Philip
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posted 04-11-2014 03:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Quiet a test to see the reactions of the general "crowd" public.

Skyguy48
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posted 04-17-2014 04:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skyguy48   Click Here to Email Skyguy48     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been a skydiver for 12 years now and packed my canopy hundreds of times. Yankee Clipper is correct in that an experienced packer will know when there is "a rock" inside a canopy.

When packing your canopy you have to lay on top of it and rub your hands the full length of the partly folded canopy to get as much air out as possible in order to get it into a very small deployment bag. I can feel the micro lines inside the folded canopy. Picking up the feel of any foreign objects come second nature to an experienced packer.

My guess is the passing rock was a meteor. In fact, if you look close at 22 and 24 seconds you will actually see it coming into the atmosphere.

p51
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posted 04-17-2014 05:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
To what end?
In this age of the internet, where EVERYONE thinks that they're famous and being famous for nothing is a worthwhile goal for many people, I could easily see someone doing almost anything to create a 'buzz' for the sake of it alone.

Don't underestimate the capacity for any given person to want to get as much attention as they possibly can, regardless of what that attention is for.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-17-2014 05:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is healthy to be skeptical, but being overly skeptical is just as bad as being gullible.

The people behind the video seem to have done their research — in private — for two years, and consulted with experts before going public. And, once doing so and being shown they were wrong, they accepted the findings without argument.

Based on what I've read of the analysis of the video, it seems pretty clear to me that it was a pebble (actually pebbles, plural, as a second much smaller rock appears to be visible in the video as well).

As for the anecdote of any experienced skydiver being able to find a rock in their chute, that's apparently not the case, as others have come forward as a result of this video with stories of having watched pebbles escape from their parachutes as they deployed.

Maybe someday a meteor will be captured on video by a skydiver, but this does not appear to be that day.

p51
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posted 04-17-2014 06:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Point well taken, I was just addressing your comment as to what the motivation could possibly be for all this.

As for a rock in the chute, I've seen FAR worse. I did a troop jump out of a CH-47 and a MRE accessory pack came flying out of the thing when it opened, I was looking up at the canopy when it came tumbling out! For those who've never had to endure eating an MRE, I'm talking about something much larger than a man's wallet.

moorouge
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posted 04-18-2014 01:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is this a case of taking a packed lunch a step too far?

YankeeClipper
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posted 04-18-2014 05:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In-flight meals are always tricky affairs - bits and bobs drop everywhere!

Liembo
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posted 04-21-2014 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Liembo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A forensic analysis using some debris scatter models from the space shuttle.

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