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rojo's avatar

Was this a meteorite? Details inside.

Asked by rojo (22066points) February 14th, 2013

According the the attached report Here A meteorite was coming down in the Urals and was shot down by the Russian Defense. This begs the question; would you shoot down a meteor or is this something else? Other reports on the web suggest it was a US satellite that was crashing back to earth.
Other that the obvious UFO implications what are your thoughts?
And, is it possible that this is related to DA-14 asteroid that is coming our way?

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14 Answers

poisonedantidote's avatar

I have only just woke up and have the tail end of the story, if it is a meteorite, then they are quite stupid for shooting it down, all you do is spread the damage it causes. A country with its own space program should know these things.

I have to say, looking at the cloud it left and the damage, it was a likely meteorite, a little companion of the one passing by later.

There is some guy on the news saying how it is 12 hours early, and how that is too much, that it must be coincidence, but on the cosmic scale, 12 hours is nothing, to me it is all related.

We have a meteorite passing by tonight, very close to earth, it would be hard to imagine how this could be anything other than part of that same meteorite.

mattbrowne's avatar

More than 500 people hurt. This is perhaps the biggest event since Tunguska. Wow. Related to DA-14? Too soon to tell.

Good video here:

mattbrowne's avatar

Here’s an even better video combining numerous individual videos. Many Russians install permanent video cameras on their cars to be able to prove their innocence in car accidents. This will probably the best documented meteorite impact ever:

Seek's avatar

Phil Plait, of Slate’s “Bad Astronomy” does not believe it is related to DA-14.

Here’s the Bad Astronomy article

“First of all, I do not think this is related in any way to the asteroid 2102 DA14! For one thing, this occurred about 16 hours before DA14 passes. At 8 kilometers per second that’s nearly half a million kilometers away from DA14. That puts it on a totally different orbit.”

There’s an amazing car-camera video on that article, and another couple with great sound of the sonic boom. Plait is skeptical about the meteorite being shot down by anyone, and advises people to take reports of flaming chasms with a grain (or many) of salt. This is the age of memes, after all.

mattbrowne's avatar

German space experts on television said the same thing. It’s a coincidence. The number of hurt people rose to about 950, almost all from bits of broken window glass or bruising from ejected window frames. No serious injuries known as of this moment.

There’s a good video recorded by an automatic office webcam shown on tv, but I haven’t found it on Youtube yet. It shows that an entire closed door was blown into the hallway.

The meteorite barely missed a nuclear power plant and nuclear waste deposit, but I’m sure the nuclear power fans will dismiss this in the same way they dismissed Fukushima and Chernobyl.

There’s an opportunity here i.e. more money worldwide for better observations of NEOs plus research on technology to alter courses if necessary.

Seek's avatar

Yes. More money to SCIENCE! Take it away from college football if you have to. No one would miss that, right?

rebbel's avatar

Here you can see it’s (2012 DA14) trajectory.

Seek's avatar

Phil Plait will be doing a Google + hangout live during the passby. It’ll be about 2pm Eastern. I’m hoping to be on it.

PhiNotPi's avatar

First off, to clear up any confusion, the meteor over the Urals was completely unrelated to DA14.

I don’t think that shooting down an asteroid would do anything, since it’s the sheer mass that does the damage.

The article doesn’t provide much evidence for military involvement other than a few unspecific details from unconfirmed / unnamed sources.

It is possible, however, that some sort of automatic missile defense systems actually were involved. Supersonic speed + parabolic trajectory = ICBM? On the contrary, I have no clue how fast this thing was moving, and if it is even physically feasible to intercept it.

ETpro's avatar

@PhiNotPi The speed estimates are in. It was about the size of a city bus, and moving at 33,000 MPH (54,000 KPH) according to this. Getting hit by a bus going 25 MPH is traumatic enough. One tooling along at 33,000 MPH wouldn’t hurt you, it would vaporize you before you felt anything.

Intercepting something coming in at that velocity would be incredibly difficult. And breaking it into may pieces would mean instead of one big but localizes strike, you would have hundreds of smaller, but still destructive ones. A better strategy would be to detect it well before it nears Earth, and launch interceptors to gently nudge its orbit. If you could speed up or slow an object by just a few seconds, it would miss Earth instead of impacting it. Two ships passing in the night, like the DA14 event was.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ETpro – The shock wave was created about 20 miles above ground, right?

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne I don’t have that data. But its epicenter must have been at some significant distance from the city, because I have heard that it was 30 times the power of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ETpro – It might take a while to figure out all the details. There’s one important lesson to be learned here. When there’s a sudden appearance of a strong light – stronger than normal sunshine – people have to act like a tornado was approaching. Stay away from windows inside buildings and find a ditch when you are outside. There’s enough warning time, because light is so much faster than the shock wave. When looking at all the videos, people didn’t know how to act properly, but this is because tornadoes are more frequent.

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne Copy that. I was in O’Hare Airport and looked outside to notice that what appeared to be fog or smoke was erupting up through the grass and swirling up into the air. I started heading toward the big picture-glass windows to see what this phenomenon might be. Then the PA system announced that there was a tornado on the ground nearby, and ordered everyone to get into a windowless concourse or bathroom.

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