KSJ Tracker February 15, 2013

Wotta coincidence. While NASA tracks a little close-by asteroid, BLAM! Another meteoroid detonates over Russia

Media are not sure if it is merely hundreds or at least 1000 people injured in western Siberia by sonic boom or maybe blast wave, but a meteor that blew apart in the sky early this morning sent a lot of people to the hospital. Most injuries are, reports say, due to broken glass with no fatalities yet noted.

  This would be news in any case. Videos are pretty spectacular. Some calculate this is the largest such event in at least 100 years, or at least that anybody noticed. That many people hurt by a bolide's destruction in the sky is a big story. Ditto for it being in Siberia where in 1908 a larger asteroid (more like an asteroidette, but pretty big) blew up as it flattened out from atmospheric drag and turned its kinetic energy into kaboom. That one, the Tunguska fireball, in turn flattened a huge stretch of forest in a nearly uninhabited wilderness. On top of all that, this one today came as, after weeks of news drumbeating, NASA and other sky watching agencies were set to monitor the close fly by of another small asteroid. Such freaky synchronicity amped the news quotient considerably.

  Reports in serious media, one is relieved to find, generally do a good job explaining that an asteroid zooming past on one trajectory, and another little rock that entered the atmosphere at a shallow angle from a different direction entirely, have no plausible connection to one another. They they both got their closest to Earth on the same day is just coincidence. The air-blasting object over Russia, reports say, rained debris over a large area and some of it left craters. One is just a bit skeptical about the craters, but if big chunks reached the ground this news will persist for quite awhile.


  • USA Today - Anna Arutunyan: Meteor injures hundreds in Russia ; Lots more videos, and enough facts from Russian authorities to show that this thing will be getting fast, close attention from Russia's science academies and institutes. The other object going by and tracked in advance, asteroid 2012 DA14, gets small mention down deep.
  • AP - Jim Heintz: Meteor Explodes over Russia; about 1,100 injured ;
  • Space.com - Tanya Lewis: Russian fireball Explosion Comes amid Fireball Season ; Savvy fast response by this specialty outlet.
  • Nature.com - Geoff Brumfiel: Russian meteor largest in a century ; Don't let the hed fool you. The text says largest recorded object to strike the Earth in more than a century. One does imagine that with so much near-empty ocean out there, a few larger bolides may have met their end in Earth's skies. Story is pretty good explaining why this thing hit with nobody seeing it ahead of time.
  • here's a goody -  Guardian (UK) Paul Owen, Tom McCarthy: Meteor explodes over Russian Urals, injuring more than 1,000 - live updates ; ON line, fast-breaking digital journalism of a high order here including a storify-type sequence of updates on the news and links plus excerpts to scads of news reports, official announcements, social media, etc.

Dept. of not everybody thinks this meteor was just a meteor....

Grist for the Mill - NASA JPL Press Release: Russian Meteor Not Associated With Asteroid 2012 DA14


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