The Russian Asteroid Strike

I just woke up to the news. I’ve heard some people say it’s not related to the flyby today, but that seems like a remarkable coincidence. Are they both part of a cluster, which could mean that there is potential for more hits, or do they know this one came from an entirely different direction?

Related: what would happen if Tonguska hit New York City?

Oh, this Guardian article says that ESA has ruled out a relationship. I’d still like to know on what basis. It’s also claiming almost a thousand people injured (but no reports of deaths yet, fortunately). I guess it will get sorted out later today.

And this is a good reminder to support the B612 Foundation, because I expect the government to continue to dither, even with these stark reminders.

[Update a couple minutes later]

OK, I see that people had already started to discuss this in comments at yesterday’s post before I was awake.

[Update a few minutes later]

Jorge Frank (who was one of the reviewers of my book when I was drafting it) says that it’s too soon to say.

[Update a few more minutes later]

OK, now Don Yeoman is saying that it’s unrelated:

Yeoman stressed that the bolide event was likely not associated at all with the incoming asteroid 2012 DA14, which will fly within 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) of Earth when it passes safely by our planet today.

“The asteroid will travel south to north,” Yeomans said. “The bolide trail was not south to north and the separation in time between the fireball and 2012 DA14 close approach is significant.”

I think the jury’s still out, for reasons that Jorge notes. Yes, they’re far from each other, given the time and velocity, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not part of a cluster that were once a single object, that have spread out from perturbations over the eons.

14 thoughts on “The Russian Asteroid Strike

  1. Stan

    I had the same frustrations about all the reassurances they are not related. How about an authoritative source commenting on the orbital tracks? This object should have been seen by something as it approached and entered the atmosphere.

  2. Stan

    I had the same frustrations about all the reassurances they are not related. How about an authoritative source commenting on the orbital tracks? This object should have been seen by something as it approached and entered the atmosphere.

  3. Thomas Matula

    Given this is the third time Russia has been hit since 1908 perhaps it will wake them up to the threat so they make it the focus of their space goals.

  4. Brett Brewer

    I wonder how big it was? We would have quite a robust asteroid detection capability to be able to spot something like this years in advance.

    The anchorwoman on Fox this morning kept saying that NASA could track these and deflect them. Ughh!!

    1. Thomas Matula

      Brett,

      Nature is reporting the mass as 41 tons, which would make it about half of the 71 ton Sikhote-Alin mountains impact in 1947.

      http://www.nature.com/news/russian-meteor-largest-in-a-century-1.12438

      It was also probably smaller than the Amazon air burst in 1930.

      http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1995Obs…115..250B

      So this is the fourth shot fired across our bows since 1900, not counting possible ocean strikes and in the Antarctic, so how many more before we do something?

  5. MfK

    This is yet another demonstration of why we need to ban assault rifles and ammunition clips holding one round or more. How many more hundreds must be injured before we act? Am I right, Comrade Jim and Comrade Gerrib?

  6. Eric Weder

    What struck me was how accurately the movies got it. As the Russians have been saying – it looked like a scene from “Armageddon”. Except the real video is even more interesting to watch – there seem to have been fireballs burning in the train well after the object(s) had passed. And there were two parallel smoke trails in one picture I saw – so had the object split? Lots of science to be done from these images.

    1. Doug Jones

      The dual smoke trail is formed from the single hot gas/vapor/dust trail by convection. The meteor created a long hot cylinder that was almost horizontal, which then started to rise buoyantly, and rolling in a climbing vortex, drawing in clear air from below. Think of a fireball stretched out horizontally. The end result is a pair of dusty vortices with clear air between them.

  7. George Turner

    Unlike any Soviet-era meteor impacts that could have occured, at least this time they can print T-shirts saying “I survived the Chelabynsk meteor.”

    If this doesn’t give the people of the Earth a wake-up call about the dangers of global warming, I don’t know what will.

  8. T.L. James

    I was amused to read the BBC article and find that Vladimir Zhirinovski is still around. Had forgotten him.

    Unfortunately, he’s not the only one now raving about American superweapons, “scalar energy”, and whatnot. Man, if only we had such cool death-ray technology…

  9. Fletcher Christian

    Reacting to a blinding white flash by rushing to a window? Well, obviously the lessons of the Cold War need relearning. :-)

    Bur seriously, I’m with all those who say that this impact is yet another warning. The fourth or fifth in just over a century, in fact.

    We need to get some of our eggs out of the basket. Doom rocks aren’t the only threat; for example, Yellowstone is thousands of years overdue for its next temper tantrum. That’s quite apart from anthropogenic threats.

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