Russian Chelyabinsk Meteor largest since 1908 Tunguska event

Map showing the meteorite impact area Image credit: Google Earth, NASA/JPL-Caltech › Larger view

From the WSJ (NASA JPL Statement follows):

The meteor that crashed to earth in Russia was about 55 feet in diameter, weighed around 10,000 tons and was made from a stony material, scientists said, making it the largest such object to hit the Earth in more than a century.

Large pieces of the meteor have yet to be found. However, a team from the Urals Federal University, which is based in Yekaterinburg, collected 53 fragments, the largest of which was 7 millimeters, according to Viktor Grokhovsky, a scientist at the university.

Data from a global network of sensors indicated that the disintegration of the Russia fireball unleashed nearly 500 kilotons of energy, more than 30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

It is the largest reported meteor since the one that hit Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The agency’s new gauge of the meteor’s size was a marked increase from its initial estimate.

==============================================================

Here is the NASA JPL statement:

New information provided by a worldwide network of sensors has allowed scientists to refine their estimates for the size of the object that entered that atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, at 7:20:26 p.m. PST, or 10:20:26 p.m. EST on Feb. 14 (3:20:26 UTC on Feb. 15).

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.

Source: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/news/asteroid20130215.html


Preliminary information indicates that a meteor in Chelyabinsk, Russia, is not related to asteroid 2012 DA14, which is flying by Earth safely today.

The Russia meteor is the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia. The meteor entered the atmosphere at about 40,000 mph (18 kilometers per second). The impact time was 7:20:26 p.m. PST, or 10:20:26 p.m. EST on Feb. 14 (3:20:26 UTC on Feb. 15), and the energy released by the impact was in the hundreds of kilotons.

Based on the duration of the event, it was a very shallow entry. It was larger than the meteor over Indonesia on Oct. 8, 2009. Measurements are still coming in, and a more precise measure of the energy may be available later. The size of the object before hitting the atmosphere was about 49 feet (15 meters) and had a mass of about 7,000 tons.

The meteor, which was about one-third the diameter of asteroid 2012 DA14, was brighter than the sun. Its trail was visible for about 30 seconds, so it was a grazing impact through the atmosphere.

It is important to note that this estimate is preliminary, and may be revised as more data is obtained.

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/asteroidflyby.html

DC Agle 818-393-9011

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Related: A problem that is bigger than global warming

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DaveG

That’s what I love about WUWT full of real information. Science at it’s best with NO adjustments.
Keep it coming!

… so the large Dolphin pod run is from the meteor? Or is something else up? Maybe another impact at sea spooked them.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2280236/Mystery-group-100-000-dolphins-spotted-swimming-coast-San-Diego.html#ixzz2LEXDzV1G

wayne

That just might have been a leading trojan to the 2012 DA14, in the gravitational saddle on the lead size of the orbit, smaller so affected more by the tug of the Earth just enough to skim us into the atmosphere. Any confirmation there? Whew, close call, super lucky that one didn’t reach the surface!

John in NZ

10,000 tonnes seems a bit massive. kilos perhaps

Russia to create meteor (should be meteorite) defence shield.
http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_02_18/Russia-to-create-meteor-defense-shield/

william Abbott

Uninhabited oceans cover most of the earth’s surface. I estimate these events, large meteor strikes, are more frequent than being estimated. We generally know nothing about them, but we should assume they are at least three times more frequent than observed.

John M

Hmmm….
Just like a Seinfeld episode, sometimes things just mesh together.
Feb 9: CNN’s Deborah Feyerick wonders if global warming is the cause of asteroid 2012 DA14
Feb 12: We have it from the highest office in the land that we have to believe in Climate Change because otherwise, we would be stuck believing in “freak coincidences”.
Feb 15: meteor hits Russia
Feb 16: asteroid 2012 DA14 passes near Earth
Feb 18: CNN declares “A meteor and asteroid: 1 in 100 million odds”
http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/16/opinion/urry-meteor-asteroid/index.html
Conclusion: Deborah Feyerick must have been right! Since we can’t believe in “freak coincidences”, something that seems to be improbable must have a CAUSE.
Can you think of anything being THE CAUSE other than global warming?
I didn’t think so!

Grant in NZ

John in NZ, re: the mass of the meteor
55 ft -> ~17 m -> ~2500 m^3
Density from http://www.meteorites.com.au/odds&ends/density.html is about 4 T/m^3
So 10 kT is about the right ballpark

OMG, I knew it was big…
It all makes the footage much more remarkable (we all get to see it and from many different angles). Those Russians sure are cool and laid back. I haven’t seen all the different films of it yet, but those I saw, no one shouted or stopped their cars. It seemed more like, “Oh, look at that. Interesting.”
Amazing stuff.
Thos alarmists wanting to blame CAGW can scream all they want to, it just makes them look stupid. Their panicking is getting tiring, anyway. I think most people looking at green are beginning to see red (pun intended).

Paul Penrose

Wayne,
No it came from the opposite direction.

John in NZ

Hi Grant.
Yeah. you are right. I did the calculation again just after I posted and came out with about 4T/m^3
Teach me to check before commenting.

MattN

The largest 2 chunks of space debris in the last 100 years hits Russia. What are the chances?

Lance

Peter Brown….years ago, when I lived in Ft. McMurray, some of us GUYS were into Astronomy and he was in Grade 11/12 at the time, and we would pick him up and take him out to where we setup our scopes and he used to just sit in his lawn chair and watch/grade etc the meteors!! Look like he made a career out of it!! Good for him!

MattN

And once again, this is why this is the #1 Science blog on the internets…

Ben D.

The biggest asteroid to hit Earth on any given day is likely to be about 40 centimeters, in a given year about 4 meters, and in a given century about 20 meters. These statistics are obtained by the following:
Over at least the range from 5 centimeters (2 inches) to roughly 300 meters (1,000 feet), the rate at which Earth receives meteors obeys a power-law distribution as follows:
N(>D) = 37 D^-2.7
where N(>D) is the expected number of objects larger than a diameter of D meters to hit Earth in a year. This is based on observations of bright meteors seen from the ground and space, combined with surveys of near Earth asteroids. Above 300 meters in diameter, the predicted rate is somewhat higher, with a two-kilometer asteroid (one million-megaton TNT equivalent) every couple of million years — about 10 times as often as the power-law extrapolation would predict.
(http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v420/n6913/full/nature01238.html)

H.R. (off fishing in Florida)

william Abbott says:
February 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm
“Uninhabited oceans cover most of the earth’s surface. I estimate these events, large meteor strikes, are more frequent than being estimated. We generally know nothing about them, but we should assume they are at least three times more frequent than observed.”
I can’t say that you are wrong, but there are an awful lot of installations scattered around the world by certain missile-paranoid nations looking for large, fast moving objects. One would think they would pick up 3 times as many “Gee-golly-whiz-whu-waz-DAT! Awwww… it just fell in the ocean so we’ll never know”s as are reported.
A fair question is; are you correct in your assumption but there is nothing reported (protects how much the paranoid nations are picking up) or are all the “Hey guys. you missed another one too small for your ‘scopes” getting passed on to the appropriate observers? Perhaps someone knows about non-military threats getting reported to academics or can say (without saying, of course) that more objects are hitting than are generally reported.

Darren

Amazing that it was completely unknown before impact

James Atkinson

Not only did it come in from a different direction, it took a huge LEFT turn due to CAGW. It energy increased as the result of excessive amounts of CO2 in it’s path and the cyclical, cyclonical rotation of solar winds and the earths rotation. WE HAVE MEASURED IT and CO2 exacerbated the heating of the Hydrogen and CO2 is sincronisety (sp). I guess it just BLEW UP

Mike Smith

Kudos to WUWT for the great coverage.
It’s gratifying to see NASA focused on real and relevant science versus Islamic outreach and the global warming gravy train.

About “meteor defense shields,” we do not have, and not in the near term, the capability of projecting sufficient momentum or accurately enough to defend against a meteorite, and certainly not enough to overcome the precautionary principle.
About forecasting, the nonexistent probability of a strike by 2012 AD-14 was well established shortly after its discovery. If, hypothetically, a STRIKE was probable, would the information have been released earlier or later. Consider the dilemma of hurricane forecasters, is the panic worse before or after the event and its warnings.
I evacuated Charleston, SC, for H. Hugo but not for H. David. H. Hugo followed me to Charlotte, NC, where my shelter was damaged more than my Charleston home. My Beneteau FIRST 235 at Charleston’s Brittlebank may have been the most seaward undamaged boat afloat.

thingadonta

Although coming from different directions, could the two recent asteroid pieces be part of a slightly more asteroid-populated orbit/domain around the sun?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Large pieces of the meteor have yet to be found.
Except on the Russian black market, if you know who to ask.

Meteor fast is an order of magnitude faster than missile fast. Low Earth Orbit speed is about 7 Km/s. I believe that the Chelyabinsk meteor speeds are reported in the 30,000 Km/s range.

John in NZ

10,000 tonnes seems a bit massive. kilos perhaps

It’s almost 1800 m³ assuming a 15 metre diameter sphere (the earlier estimate).
With 17 metres diameter it’s over 2500 m³ in volume. The density of rock varies widely (pumice floats!) but if it’s usually between 2500 kg/m³ and 3500 kg/m³ which’d put the meteorite at between 6250 and 8750 tonnes (megagrams); a little shy of the estimate. OTOH: If the meteorite were made of e.g. solid iron ore with a density of between 4.5 and 5.3 tonnes/m³, it’d have been over the estimate of 10,000 tons.

Snake Oil Baron

MattN says:
February 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm
“The largest 2 chunks of space debris in the last 100 years hits Russia. What are the chances?”
Certainly a cool coincidence, especially when one of them arrives within hours of a third body making an historically close flyby yet without sharing even a similar orbit with it. And add some coincidences like much smaller but still flashy meteors reported over Cuba and San Francesco and a papal resignation hours before a double lightning strike on Saint Peter’s Basilica…
I realize that unusual things happen all the time and coincidences are perfectly natural and the human mind groups some together as meaningful when they aren’t. Even so it still seems like a creepy few days.

mjk

So we now accept the analysis of the NASA scientists do we. How ironic.
Mjk

The biggest object…In more than a century, really?
How could they possibly ‘know’ that?
…and I am reminded of that famous New Yorker cartoon which shows America from an NY perspective, i.e. the rest of the USA receding rapidly across the curvature of the planet with spindly California on the edge of a distant Pacific.
So is this an example of the distorted perspective that fouls the Climate debate…as in ‘we’ve never seen this before so it has never happened before?
Or is it an example of faith in ‘science’, as in a scientists know everything and a scientist said this so we will just accept it?
In either case the claim made is palpable nonsense. The Chelyabinsk event was witnessed over a relatively small area and dozens of similar events could easily have happened over the vast empty reaches of the planet in the last hundred years.
You know I’m always tickled when somebody throws up a graph of ‘Global temperature’ since 1890 or some such. Up at this end of the timescale NASA GISS Hadcrut, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all; equipped with their satellites and calibrated digital thermometers happily deviate from each other by .08 of a degree…but hey in 1890 when there was probably less than a dozen thermometers in the entire Southern Hemisphere and none at the poles…well the ‘scientists’ know for certain sure that the GLOBAL temp was 1.2 degrees cooler than today…
as they say in England ‘do me a favour’!

It’s not too surprising that the last two large meteorites [that we know about] hit Russia. it’s a very big country.

Jantar

mjk says:
“So we now accept the analysis of the NASA scientists do we. How ironic.”

We will accept the analysis of anyone as long as it is logical, repeatable, and following correct scientific principles. It is data, not models, that are important.

Resourceguy

At least we will have our carbon credits to cling to and burn for warmth in the overcast from the next big meteor strike, unless it hits in the ocean and sends massive tidal waves in addition to the cold overcast.

john coghlan

nothing ironic about accepting NASA SCIENTISTS analysis, it’s the NASA environmentalists that are out of whack.

Steve from Rockwood

I was sure it was due to global warming until I found out that a BIGGER one had crashed 100 years ago in RUSSIA. Dang. Maybe next year it will be 20,000 tonnes.

cui bono

Oh dear. No doubt it’s proof for the alarmists that global warming not only causes satellites to fall from the sky, but meteors too!
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/12/that-co2-is-powerful-stuff-now-causes-satellites-to-fall-from-orbit/
More seriously, years ago two British astronomers, Victor Clube and Bill Napier, wrote a book (‘The Cosmic Serpent’) showing the scaling of expected meteorite impacts over time (ie: if this is a ‘one in a century’ event, consider the ‘once a millenium’ version!). They were convinced that impacts had significantly affected human history, but while they steered well clear of Velikovski nonsense, their ideas probably meant most scientists steered clear of their work. It’s worth looking out for if it’s ever reprinted, or if you can hold of a copy.

OssQss

Hummmm, so going from 49′ to 55′, takes us from 7k to 10k tons, and then from 30 to 500 kilotons and no crater? Let alone the 7mm remnants thought to be found………
Did Tunguska have a crater or remnants ?
My skeptical side is in full force~
What is the definition of a meteor, meteoroid and meteorite ?
Just sayin~

philincalifornia

John M says:
February 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm
Hmmm….
Just like a Seinfeld episode, sometimes things just mesh together.
Feb 9: CNN’s Deborah Feyerick wonders if global warming is the cause of asteroid 2012 DA14
Feb 12: We have it from the highest office in the land that we have to believe in Climate Change because otherwise, we would be stuck believing in “freak coincidences”.
Feb 15: meteor hits Russia
Feb 16: asteroid 2012 DA14 passes near Earth
Feb 18: CNN declares “A meteor and asteroid: 1 in 100 million odds”
http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/16/opinion/urry-meteor-asteroid/index.html
Conclusion: Deborah Feyerick must have been right! Since we can’t believe in “freak coincidences”, something that seems to be improbable must have a CAUSE.
Can you think of anything being THE CAUSE other than global warming?
I didn’t think so!
———————————————————————————
Man putting all that extra CO2 into the atmosphere has increased the gravitational field of the earth. The science is settled.
I bet 97% of Huffington Post readers would actually believe that.

RockyRoad

Doug Huffman says:
February 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Meteor fast is an order of magnitude faster than missile fast. Low Earth Orbit speed is about 7 Km/s. I believe that the Chelyabinsk meteor speeds are reported in the 30,000 Km/s range.

Actually, that might be per hour, not per second, so reduce the speed you state by a factor of 3,600. Otherwise, you’re saying the meteor was going at ~1/10th the speed of light.
Light travels at 186,000 miles per second so the speed you quoted–30,000 Km/s or 18,645 miles/s, is about 1/10th the speed of light.
The latest estimate, of course, is that it was traveling at 40,000mph, which is ~64,400 km/hr. Their statement:

The meteor entered the atmosphere at about 40,000 mph (18 kilometers per second).

is close enough to quote. That’s equivalent to 11.2 miles per second, which is moving right along.

Interesting that it was so small that it wasn’t noticed at all until it hit.
But ALSO interesting that it was such a glancing graze that it broke up way up in the atmosphere with relatively little effect on the surface.
Imagine if it had been more of a “straight on” hit. Any meteorologists (hmm… I guess we need a different term for them, eh?) out there speculating on what the effect would have been then? What *would* the effect have been if it was a fairly vertical hit on downtown Manhattan?
😕
MJM

cui bono

Another bit of fun with consensus science. From http://www.meteorlab.com – about the first confirmed meteorite in the USA in 1807:
——
Finally, the two wise professors from Yale concluded the stones must have fallen from the sky.
Eventually the story found its way to the White House in Washington, D.C. President Thomas Jefferson was a scientist as well as statesman. When he heard this peculiar story he declared it could not be true, but his advisors insisted that the stones were observed falling from the sky and that two Yale professors investigating the incident vouched for its truth.
Thomas Jefferson, President of the United states, responded with great skepticism: “Gentlemen, I would rather believe that two Yankee professors would lie than believe that stones fall from heaven.”
Whether Jefferson’s quote is truth or myth, his belief real or an opportunity for a witty Virginian to take a shot at a two Yankees, is not known and not really that important. What is important is that the story reflects the mindset of a scientific community struggling to reconcile observation with entrenched belief.
——
Yep, those damned observations, always upsetting the consensus. Plus ca change.

OssQss

Forgot the NASA link ~ oops (edit function requested)
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/30jun_tunguska
[Reply: We would love to give you an edit function, but WordPress is uncooperative. — mod.]

Russia is big and the locations are not close in human scale but if you were trying to hit the Earth with meteorites at the same spot on the globe and you got these results you would deserve a pat on the back (except for trying to hit Earth with meteorites which is a pretty jerky thing to do).

Snake Oil Baron wrote, “Russia is big and the locations are not close in human scale but if you were trying to hit the Earth with meteorites at the same spot on the globe and you got these results you would deserve a pat on the back (except for trying to hit Earth with meteorites which is a pretty jerky thing to do).”
Hey, not as jerky as a bunch o’ drunks trying to hit a cardboard circle by throwing sharp little darty things through the air in a crowded pub!
EBH: no crater necessarily if it’s an air burst — which both this and the 1908 event seem to have been.
– MJM

EBH

So there would be a huge crater somewhere, right?

mr.artday

When these things explode with hundreds of kilotons of energy, what provides the explosive energy?

D.B. Stealey

Here is a map of known asteroids, including those deemed to be a threat. [Click in image to embiggen.]

bw

Some properties of chondrites
http://meteorites.wustl.edu/id/density.htm
The estimated size was 17 meters diameter. It was likely not a perfect sphere, so round down to 8 meter radius. That gives a volume of 2000 cubic meters. Average chondrite density of 3.5 tonnes per cubic meter gives about 7000 tonnes. They may have other data showing the density on the high side, or guessing from the calculated energy release of the shockwave on windows, along with videos of the track, etc.
The NASA estimate says the size was 7000 to 10000 tonnes.
A 1 kilogram object at 18000 meters per second has about 162 Megajoules of KE. So, 7 million kilograms has 1134 million megajoules.
http://www.unitconversion.org/energy/megajoules-to-kilotons-conversion.html
Using this converter gives 271 kilotons equivalent. The Hiroshima blast was about 12 kilotons, so the Chelyabinsk energy was about 22 Hiroshimas.
But, the meteor energy was dispersed over 30 seconds before it shattered, so its hard to guess how much energy was in the final shock wave, compared to the Hiroshima shock wave. The Hiroshima blast was IIRC around 3000 feet above the city. The Chelyabinsk shockwave originated at a much higher altitude.

philincalifornia

michaeljmcfadden says:
February 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm
What *would* the effect have been if it was a fairly vertical hit on downtown Manhattan?
_____________________________
Something about like this would be a guide:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor_Crater

It’s not the largest in 100 years. The July 1972 object was much larger. It just did not get low enough in the atmosphere to explode. If it had, Albuquerque would no longer exist.

Sad-But-True-Its-You

The “Human Global Warming” will be VERY pissed at this news.
For decades the Human Global Warming “Evangelical Christians” have been had at work to put ‘Man’ back at the center of the Universe. They, as their spokesperson de jour Little Jimmy E. Hansen, puts (punts it) while collecting his ‘royal’ US Government and NY State Pay while he abandons his job and give us a show at the Gates of the White House, perhaps ‘in his mind’ he was at the ‘Great Gates Of Kiev’.
NO.
Far from there and that.
He should give thanks for his … ‘Station’ … but no … not the … little jimmy e. hansen … THAT … he will never do … he will say such … beneath his … dignity … nor acknowledge … not even with his ding breath.
}:-)

GlynnMhor

artday, e=mv^2, so for the high velocity to be reduced to zero, that prodigious kinetic energy is converted to heat.

Why is the Russian meteor not related to the Da14 asteroid? If it was a fragment from Da14 it could still be puled in at a north east to south west direction, we should be looking at the orbits of these asteroids to see if there are any debris following or preceding them.