The Unexpected Atmospheric Intruder

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Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

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I apologize for interrupting our normal reporting of earthly solar energy…for most people in the U.S. woke up in the morning of Feb. 15, 2013, at 3:20:26 UTC, to videos from Russian dashboard cameras showing a fireball in the sky crashing down to the Earth. Below, is the video of this atmospheric intruder:

 

meteorite impacting the earth’s atmosphere (Don Davis/NASA)

A meteorite impacted the atmosphere and exploded above the Chelyabinsk region of central Russia, injuring approximately 1,200 people and causing roughly 1 billion rubles ($33 million U.S.) worth of damage.  This was the largest recorded object to strike the Earth in more than a century and the largest rock crashing onto the planet since a meteor broke up over Siberia’s Tunguska River in 1908. Preliminary information is that this object was unrelated to 50-meter asteroid 2012 DA14 (which made a safe pass by Earth on Feb. 15, 2013 few hours after the 17 meter meteorite  exploded above Chelyabinsk region of central Russia).

Meteorite impact area: Chelyabinsk, Russia *this event is unrelated to the 2012 DA14 flyby (image credit: Google Earth, NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The estimated size of the object (Russian meteorite), prior to entering Earth’s atmosphere, was about 55 feet (17 meter);  its estimated mass was about 10,000 tons, and estimated energy released during the event was nearly 500 kilotons of energy (making it more powerful than the nuclear weapon tested by North Korea just few days ago).  These data generated used data that had been collected by five 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 indicated 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 of the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

“We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average,” according to Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. “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.”

Although these sporadic showers of rocks from space may be scary and the earth’s technological capability in deflecting these killer space rocks has not yet arrived at its fruition, one’s odds of being killed by a meteorite is roughly 1 in 250,000;which means one is far more likely to die in an earthquake, tornado, flood, airplane crash, or car crash…but less likely to be killed by lightning.  Keep in mind that most asteroids burn up in the atmosphere long before they hit the earth’s ground and the few that do will probably hit open ocean or a remote part of the Earth.

May we not have another visit from these intruders until after we’ve perfected our deflecting technology.  Until then, be safe, every one and be supportive of the Near-Earth Object Program.

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your comments/suggestions/questions are welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com

Homepage:  http://www.sunisthefuture.net


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