No Pebble Unturned: Astronomers and students from the University of Khartoum form a line half a mile wide to comb the Nubian Desert for tiny fragments of a rare asteroid. Peter Jenniskens/NASA Ames Research Center/SETI
Meet the Asteroid Hunters: A network of space buffs is learning to track asteroids more accurately than ever to predict exactly when and where the next killer meteorite will strike
30 September 2009
On October 7, 2008,shortly before dawn in northern Sudan, a trucker named Omar Fadul el Mula was praying at a remote teahouse in the Nubian Desert when a bright flash lit up the landscape. It was as if the world had switched from night to day. He sprung to his feet, ran around the small building, and saw a huge trail of dust and debris stretched high in the sky.
A rush of percussive blasts followed the display, prompting some people in the region to run inside and hide, while others watched in awe. Mohammed Elhassan, walking home from his local mosque in the Nile city of Wadi Halfa, took out his mobile phone and snapped a few photos. Head-on, from his position, the dust looked almost like a child’s doodle. Some locals even told interviewers they divined a message in the pattern: a sign from Mohammed approving of their Ramadan fast.
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