Google Earth helps discover massive meteor crater

September 28th, 2010 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 28 (IANS) Google Earth has helped spot a meteor crater in Egypt that lay undiscovered, which could help scientists size up risks of potentially catastrophic impacts.
The unknown Kamil crater, 52 feet deep and 150 feet wide, is deep within the Egyptian desert.

Caused by a 10-tonne chunk of iron travelling at more than 12,070 kmph, or nearly five times the speed of an AK-47 round, it is one of the best preserved sites ever found.

The impact would have generated a fireball seen more then 620 miles away, and scientists believe it is relatively young - potentially less than a few thousand years old, reports the Daily Mail.

This means it may have been seen by early humans, although no human record exists of its impact.

The crater was spotted in the border region between Egypt, Sudan and Libya in 2008 by mineralogist Vincenzo De Michele, then with the Civico Museo di Storia Naturale in Milan, Italy.

He was searching for natural features when he chanced on the image on his PC screen.

He contacted astrophysicist Mario Di Martino, at the INAF (National Institute for Astrophysics) observatory in Turin, Italy, who, along with Luigi Folco, organised an expedition to the site in February this year.

The two-week expedition took more than a year to plan, and involved 40 people driving for three days in 40 degree heat to find the site.

The crater, in southern Egypt, is one of the best preserved sites ever found. They collected fragments and carried out tests, and found that it was in remarkably pristine condition.

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