NASA Explains What Exploded Over Russia

Here is the definitive video from NASA about what happened over Russia earlier this month. It's interesting because though we had pegged the asteroid 2012 DA14 to pass us by, we never saw the Russian meteorite coming because telescopes couldn't see it since it flew from the direction of the sun. So what happened?

To retrace the meteorite's steps so to speak, NASA explains that scientists used infrasound sensors from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty organisation (CTBTO). Infrasound, a low-frequency sound wave that only elephants, homing pigeons and a few other animals can hear, is used to monitor nuclear explosions. And as the meteorite's explosion was 470 kilotons of TNT (first atomic bomb was 15-20 kilotons), it was the strongest signal ever detected. By analysing the infrasound, scientists can figure out how long a meteor was in the air, where it was headed and how powerful it was.

Western Ontario Professor of Physics Peter Brown analysed the data and said:

"The asteroid was about 17 meters in diameter and weighed approximately 10,000 metric tons," he reports. "It struck Earth's atmosphere at 40,000 mph (64,300 kph) and broke apart about 12 to 15 miles above Earth's surface. The energy of the resulting explosion exceeded 470 kilotons of TNT."

The meteorite came from the asteroid belt at about a distance 2.5 times farther from the Sun than Earth. It's fascinating to track a meteorite after it already exploded. [NASA]


Comments

    The fact that this asteroid was missed by all that wiz bang gadgetry is a bit of a worry..... 17m in DIA is pretty darn big IMO

    Last edited 27/02/13 11:44 pm

    Yes it is a bit of a worry, especially considering there is almost no funding by any nation or organisation dedicated to identification and tracking of these objects. But when you think about it 17m is not that big when you consider how much of the sky needs to be scanned...

    17m is tiny, in space thats probably the equivelent of someone throwing a single grain of sand (actually probably a lot smaller) at your head while you stare into a searchlight.

    We get such an inaccurate perception of space and size etc fed to us by science fiction.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now