Saturday, February 16, 2013

Russian Meteorite a 7thousand Ton Asteroid HD


No one saw it coming! A small asteroid the size of a bus weighing 7 thousand metric tons struck the atmosphere over the city of Chelyabinsk and exploded. (2 nearby cities were also affected from the sonic boom, breaking windows.)

This morning February 16th - according to reports from news organizations and Russian authorities, as many as 1200 people received minor injuries from the shock wave. This is the most energetic recorded meteor strike since the Tunguska impact of 1908. It has been estimated that the asteroid was 30 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. 
The cost of the damage is estimated to be in the millions.

Yesterday’s report from Western Ontario’s University - Researchers including Prof. Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario along with NASA experts have conducted a preliminary analysis of the event. "Here is what we know so far," says Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "The asteroid was about 15 meters in diameter and weighed approximately 7000 metric tons. It struck Earth's atmosphere at 40,000 mph (18 km/s) and broke apart about 12 to 15 miles (20 to 25 km) above Earth's surface. The energy of the resulting explosion was in the vicinity of 300 kilotons of TNT."

But before you blame NASA for the oversight allow me to explain how observing for asteroids and other nasty stuff in space works.
NASA, CSA/ASC, ESA, SSP et al have organizations such as planet hunters and asteroid hunters. (Shoemaker NEO Grant from the Planetary Society) They in turn give grants to International scientists and astronomers to watch our space for unfriendly dirty snowballs and rocks. Once spotted, they in turn alert NASA, CSA/ASC, ESA. SSP et al.

Yesterday all eyes were following the Asteroid 2012 DA14 flying past Earth on Feb. 15th inside the orbit of many geosynchronous satellites. At closest approach, around 2:25 pm EST, the 45-meter wide space rock was only 17,200 miles above Indonesia. (No satellites were damaged by the flyby.) This one we knew of since last June 2012 thanks to amateur astronomers keeping their eyes in the skies.

And, before many of us put our telescopes and/or binoculars away another fireball graced our skies over California 7:44p.m. 
It is still debatable whether or not the Russian asteroid and Asteroid 2012 DA14 are or are not connected. Now with the fireball it has been quickly announced it is a sporadic meteorite with no connections to the two other asteroids.

The threat from asteroids is very real, and something we need to pay serious attention to.
Excerpts from YouTube video of meteorite, NBC News, Hubble Space Telescope

Wish you all a very enjoyable weekend

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