Saturday, 16 February 2013

Russian Meteorite Incident is Largest Recorded

Photonic Space 

The Russian meteorite incident on 15 February 2013 is the largest such event that has been recorded from the ground. A large number of images and videos quickly appeared in the social media and news channels. This new phenomenon marks a revolution in recording sudden events, particularly in near-earth space. It is in part an unforeseen benefit of cameras in Russian cars being common, to record poor driving in accidents.

Here is a link to one such video on YouTube. 

The event happened at around 09:25 a.m. local time, in Chelyabinsk, near the Southern Ural Mountains. The flash dazzled drivers and blew-out out windows, damaging hundreds of buildings. More than 700 people are reported to have been injured, as of 16/2/13, mainly from glass-cuts. Here is a statement of the Russian Emergency Ministry.

Scientific American has a longer report on the asteroid for more information.

NASA have confirmed the asteroid is unlikely to have been linked to passing asteroid DA14. 

The estimated size of the object, prior to entering Earth's atmosphere, has been revised upward from 49 feet (15 meters) to 55 feet (17 meters), and its estimated mass has increased from 7,000 to 10,000 tons. Also, the estimate for energy released during the event has increased by 30 kilotons to nearly 500 kilotons of energy released. These new estimates were generated using new data that had been collected by five additional infrasound stations located around the world – the first recording of the event being in Alaska, over 6,500 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk. The infrasound data indicates that the event, from atmospheric entry to the meteor's airborne disintegration took 32.5 seconds. The calculations using the infrasound data were performed by Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. 

"We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average," said Paul Chodas of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "When you have a fireball of this size we would expect a large number of meteorites to reach the surface and in this case there were probably some large ones."

The trajectory of the Russia meteor was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, which hours later made its flyby of Earth, making it a completely unrelated object. The Russia meteor is the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia. 

Photonic Space