- 1997 October 9 - El Paso, TX
- A Los Angeles radio station reported
on October 19th that a large number of people in El Paso, Texas heard a
very loud explosion in the sky earlier in the month. A meteorogical scientist
had given the explanation that a meteor had exploded 10,000 miles up, but
a local Sheriff interviewed on the radio said "They can
say what they want, but it is like I am standing here in a snowstorm".
He described the debris as being lightweight and metallic "like sequins
or the metal flake makeup that ladies sometimes wear".
- This broadcast was reported to me by
a local doctor, who listened to it at the time.
- The event was also covered in Masinaigan's
Newsletter UFO Roundup, Vol 2, Number 39.
- MYSTERY METEOR CAUSES A BIG STIR IN EL
- On Thursday, October 9, 1997, at 12:47
p.m., an unusual meteor flashed through the sky over El Paso, Texas, creating
a massive explosion that shook homes from El Paso to Las Cruces, New Mexico.
- Robert Simpson, spokesman for the McDonald
Observatory in Texas, said the explosion was caused "by what appeared
to be a small meteor...about as bright as the surface of the setting sun."
- The meteor was thought to have impacted
in the West Texas "brush country" desert, south of the Hueco
Mountains, about 30 miles east of El Paso.
- "A police helicopter flying 25 miles
east of the city spotted about an acre of scorched ground that might be
the area where the meteor hit."
- "A police command post was set up
in the Organ Mountains as U.S. Army Reserve helicopters used infrared sensors
to look for pieces of debris from the object. What they are looking for
is any debris that is still hot or anything that came off the object."
(Many thanks to Rebecca Schatte for forwarding this item.)
- "Las Cruces (N.M.) police Sgt. Joel
Cano said the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracked
the object as it entered Earth's atmosphere until it fell to the ground
30 miles east of El Paso." (See Reuters story for October 9, 1997.)
- The explosion triggered "hundreds
of calls" to El Paso police and other law enforcement agencies.
- Most witnesses saw a "dark contrail"
or "black smoke" or a "lightning flash in the sky."
- (Editor's Comment: NORAD tracked the
"meteor" all the way down, and then the Army Reserve choppers
scrambled to retrieve it. I've seen lots of meteors fall, and I have yet
to see a helicopter strike team show up looking for it afterward. Does
anyone else think there may be more to this El Paso case than was reported
by AP and Reuters?)
- Los Alamos National Laboratory came up
with the following explanation.
- Public Affairs Office (PAO) Los Alamos
- CONTACT: James E. Rickman, 505-665-9203
(97-155) Los Alamos array detects large, bright meteor: Laboratory researcher
joins the search
- LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 10, 1997 -- Researchers
at Los Alamos National Laboratory were able to use an array developed to
listen for clandestine nuclear weapons tests to help locate a large meteor
that flashed in the sky Thursday afternoon above Southern New Mexico.
- The object -- presumably a large, bright
meteor known as a bolide -- was seen in the skies Thursday at about 12:47
p.m. Witnesses said the object was at least as bright as the full moon
or as bright as the setting sun.
- "The meteor made a huge sonic signal,"
said Doug ReVelle, a meteorologist in Los Alamos' Atmospheric and Climate
Sciences Group. "They heard it like a freight train in El Paso."
- Using data from Los Alamos listening
stations originally set up to monitor nuclear explosions, ReVelle and other
researchers in Los Alamos' Atmospheric and Climate Sciences Group analyzed
the infrasonic signature created when the meteor entered the atmosphere.
- When a meteor enters the atmosphere --
or when a large explosion is detonated -- it creates a sound or pressure
wave that is below the range of human hearing. This infrasonic wave travels
through the atmosphere and can be detected by special microphones that
are set up in an array. By looking at the time of arrival of the sounds
at different stations and the frequency of the infrasonic boom, researchers
can pinpoint the location of the source and the determine the amount of
energy that created it.
- "The data from our array puts the
meteor 441 kilometers due south of Los Alamos," said ReVelle. "We'll
be looking for it in a location we've identified near El Paso."
- ReVelle will join researchers from Canada,
the University of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratory on a search
this weekend for any meteor fragments that may have reached the ground.
- "The object's infrasonic signature
was equivalent to the explosive yield of about 500 tons of TNT," ReVelle
said. "That means the object was somewhere around one half to three-quarters
of a meter in diameter."
- Thanks to the infrasound array at Los
Alamos, researchers at the Laboratory were able to narrow down the location
where it may have landed pretty well.
- In addition to searching for remains
of the meteor -- which may have exploded into tiny bits in the sky -- the
researchers will interview witnesses about the object: how bright it was;
what it sounded like.
- The object created a brilliant light
as it streaked toward Earth. Witnesses in Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Albuquerque,
El Paso and points in between saw the object in the sky.
- ReVelle and the others will search all
weekend for the object and collect other data as well.
- "It could take weeks to find, but
it could take a day or less, depending on how lucky we get," ReVelle
- Infrasonic waves are very low frequency
sounds that exist somewhere in the realm between hearing and meteorology,
ReVelle said. The sounds are well below the range of human hearing, which
ends at about 30 hertz, but actually can be detected as small changes in
atmospheric pressure. If someone had a barometer that was sensitive enough,
that person would be able to see fluctuations of several microbars when
infrasonic waves arrive.
- During the 1960s and early 1970s, before
the rise of the satellite era, the United States Air Force operated a network
of stations to listen for nuclear weapons tests. The listening stations
were the nation's first line of detection for nuclear explosions worldwide.
- The four arrays of listening stations
operated by Los Alamos are the only infrasonic network left in full-time
operation in the world. They can detect meteors that are as small as a
few centimeters in diameter. The stations are useful because they can help
validate other non-proliferation and verification techniques, and they
cost very little to operate and maintain.
- The Los Alamos stations, around since
1983, still are enlisted in the nation's nuclear non-proliferation efforts,
but have provided a way for scientists to detect bolides, larger-than-average
space debris that slams into Earth's atmosphere and creates brilliant fireballs
in the sky.
- Each year a number of large meteors enter
the atmosphere and are detected by the Los Alamos array. Some meteors are
tens of meters in diameter. ReVelle said each year about 10 meteors that
are two meters in diameter -- with an energy equivalent of a one-kiloton
blast -- enter the atmosphere. Most burn up or explode in brilliant flashes.
Some hit the ground.
- For this weekend's search, ReVelle will
join Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario; Alan Hildebrand
from the National Research Council in Ottawa, Ontario; a researcher from
University of New Mexico's Institute of Meteoritics; and Mark Boslough
of Sandia National Laboratory.
- Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated
by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy.
- There are a couple of interesting points
about the foregoing two reports. One of course is that there is no mention
of the lightweight metallic debris.
- The second is that I was in touch with
Mark Boslough last year about the previous El Paso event of October 3rd.
He was the scientist tasked with selling the original "Magic Bullet"
theory at that time (which he subsequently abandoned). However at that
time he claimed that NORAD had no records of any meteor events, and he
would not have access to them anyway.
- NORAD at that time also told me that
they had no record of meteor events.
- Now, all of a sudden, we find out according
to Police Sgt. Joel Cano that NORAD does indeed track "meteors".
As does Los Alamos.
- I also talked to the NBC affiliate in
El Paso, who I had dealt with the previous year over the October 3rd incident.
Several new points emerged.
- A number of ex-military personnel they
talked to said the event, with its flash in the sky and white smoke, looked
exactly like something had been shot down by some kind of missile. One
military man said it reminded him of the Patriot missiles during the Gulf
- There were also reports of a plane being
seen near the point of explosion.
- But more telling was the military and
scientific search parties' refusal to allow any media to accompany them
- strange behavior if they were only looking for meteor debris.
- The local weatherman also picked up the
event on his weather radar, but his superiors in Albquerque told him that
it was just an aberration due to the satellite wobbling!
- Tony Craddock
- From Reuters Hourly News Summary, Thursday
October 9th 11:38 PM PDT
- Meteor Lands Near El Paso - An apparent
meteor streaked across the sky and slammed into Earth near the Texas border
city of El Paso Thursday, sparking hundreds of calls to police as flashes
and loud sonic booms scared residents. A spokesman for the McDonald Observatory
in Texas said he saw what appeared to be a small meteor flash across the
sky at 12:47 p.m. MDT and that it was about as bright as the surface of
a setting sun. Las Cruces police say the North American Aerospace Defense
Command tracked the object as it entered Earth's atmosphere until it fell
to the ground about 30 miles east of El Paso.