The first ever evidence of a comet entering Earth’s atmosphere and exploding, raining down a shock wave of fire over Sahara desert in Egypt, has been discovered by a team of South African scientists from the University of Witwatersrand and international collaborators.
Credits: Terry Bakker
In 1997, in Egypt, close to the border with Libya, fragments of a natural silica-rich glass aged of around 28.5 million years, are found. The analyse of a stone and the comparison with specimen of the glass leads the scientists to discover the first ever comet striking Earth.
Actually, the comet entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded, heating up the Sahara's sand beneath it to a temperature of about 2 000 degrees Celsius, and resulting in the formation of a huge amount of yellow silica glass which lies scattered over a 6 000 km² area
An amazing specimen of the glass, polished by ancient Egyptian jewelers can be see on this brooch of Tutankhamun with its striking yellow-brown scarab.
"+NASA and +European Space Agency, ESA spend billions of dollars collecting a few micrograms of comet material and bringing it back to Earth, and now we’ve got a radical new approach of studying this material, without spending billions of dollars collecting it,” says Professor Jan Kramers of the University of Johannesburg.