Center for Meteorite Studies

The morning of Friday, February 15, 2013, a large meteorite exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk Russia.  While the meteorite's impact date coincided with the flyby of near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14, the two events are not related.

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What we know so far*:

Time – The main airburst occurred at 9:20 AM local time, Friday, February 15th (03:20:26 UT), with fireball ablation beginning approximately 30 seconds before this.

Entry – The entry of the meteorite into Earth's atmosphere was very shallow (less than 20 degrees), based on event duration and videos.

Energy – An initial estimate of the meteorite's explosion (based on data from multiple sensors using various technologies) places it in excess of 100 kTons, making this the largest recorded event since the 1908 Tunguska explosion.

Speed – The fireball entered the atmosphere at over 40,000 miles per hour.

Size – Pre-impact, the asteroid is currently estimated to have measured approximately 49 feet in diameter, with a mass of approximately 7000 tons.

Damage – The airblast caused window breakage and light structural damage in downtown Chelyabinsk. Given the fireball's shallow trajectory, the intense cylindrical blast wave would have propagated directly to the ground.  The single greatest contributor to the blast damage is probably the fact that the terminal part of the fireball (likely 9-12 miles altitude) occurred almost directly above the city of Chelyabinsk.

*Subject to change as more data becomes available.  Courtesy of Dr. Peter Brown, Director of the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration, and Canada Research Chair in Meteor Astronomy, University of Western Ontario.  

 

 

 

 

 

 


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