Friday, 15 February 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different.

Asteroid DA-14 is giving us a close pass today, within the Moon's orbit and closer than geosynchronous satellites, more here. And early this morning in the Urals a meteorite exploded, shattering windows and injuring around 300 people. So far it seems no deaths reported and the reports indicate injuries are light - phew! Aside from the injuries, the major concern I have are the cold weather and loads of people with smashed windows.

Here in the UK, Sky News seemed to have this as a prominent news report. BBC News merely mentioned this event in passing, seeing the ongoing horse-burger fiasco and some minor celebrity's child sex offences as more important stories, which bolsters my impression that their editorial process involves substantial input from Twitter trending topics. I really ought to give up on News 24, it's becoming a pointless exercise.

But Russia Today comes up trumps with some fantastic footage, much of which is due to in car video recording. And on this story I don't need to engage my Kremlin propaganda filter.

There are other cool shots not on that video from buildings' CCTV showing the shadows moving round as the meteorite moves over head. I'll post them if RT puts them online.

For awe-of-nature junkies like me this is a really exciting story. Especially as there is no massive loss of life to temper the excitement, and no risk of DA-14 hitting, although I presume there may be a slight risk of fragments on the same trajectory giving similar displays later today. This event may be unrelated, but it happening around the same time as DA-14 makes linkage a reasonable suspicion.

Does DA-14 and the possibility of further impacts worry me? No.
I smoke, which means I don't need to worry about extreme low probability risks like meteorites.

Update 16/2/13.
More in the comments, so I won't repeat here, this is a quiet blog so there's not many comments. Round up video from Russia Today here. Back to the Arctic...

Update 18/2/13.
Once you start these things you're condemned to continue...

The meteor was caught by Meteosat 9, which has been replaced Meteosat 10 as far as I can see, so this image looks like an in-house job. Anyway, IR satellite image of the meteor here. Which is via this blog I stumbled upon, not convinced by the argument but it was an interesting read. NASA have upgraded the estimated blast yield to 500ktons, more here. And some people think that the smashed windows and damaged buildings were due to sonic boom. A sonic boom did the damage, the 500ktons energy release and flash brighter than the sun was just a sideshow. Speechless.

Anyway, it's definitely back to long boring posts about the Arctic.


crandles said...

>"makes linkage a reasonable suspicion."

Prof Alan Fitzsimmons, of the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen's University Belfast, said there was "almost definitely" no connection.

"One reason is that 2012 DA14 is approaching Earth from the south, and this object hit in the northern hemisphere," he told BBC News.

"This is literally a cosmic coincidence, although a spectacular one."

Chris Reynolds said...


They're now reporting this.

Staggering coincidence.

Chris Reynolds said...

According to Christian Science Monitor.

"Initially, the Russian Academy of Science estimated the object's mass at about 10 metric tons (11 US tons). With more data in hand, researchers now say the object had a mass of 7,000 metric tons (7,700 US tons) and a diameter of about 50 feet.

The blast released energy comparable to a 300- to 500-kiloton nuclear warhead, says Bill Cooke, who heads the meteoroid environment office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstville, Ala. By Comparison, the Nagasaki nuclear bomb had a yield of 20 to 22 kilotons."

The detonation happening at an altitude of around 12 to 15 miles.

Scientific American seem to be getting info from the same source.

For all the casualties, the awful combination of smashed windows and the cold of winter, and the fact that two people are reported as being critical in hospital. The people of the Chelyabinsk region have been pretty lucky, a steeper descent angle and lower burst height would have substantially worsened the impact.

From my own personal perspective, it's surprised me how big it seems to have been, and I'm still in awe of it. Even if I'm not losing sleep over such events.