Two years on, source of Russian Chelyabinsk meteor remains elusive

February 13, 2015, Planetary Science Institute
Chelyabinsk fireball recorded by a dashcam from Kamensk-Uralsky north of Chelyabinsk where it was still dawn.

Two years after a 20-meter rock slammed into the Earth after a meteoroid dramatically fragmented in the atmosphere over the Chelyabinsk region in Russia and injured hundreds of people, its parent asteroid remains elusive, a new paper published in the journal Icarus shows.

Astronomers had originally predicted that a 2-km near-Earth (NEA) designated (86039) 1999 NC43 could be the source body from which the Chelyabinsk was ejected prior to its encounter with the Earth.

"These two bodies shared similar orbits around the Sun, and initial studies suggested even similar compositions," said Planetary Science Institute research scientist Vishnu Reddy, lead author of "Link Between the Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (86039) 1999 NC43 and the Chelyabinsk Meteoroid Tenuous" that appears in Icarus.

However, reanalysis of the orbital parameters and spectral data by an international team of researchers led by Reddy has shown that the link between Chelyabinsk and 1999 NC43 is unlikely. "The composition of Chelyabinsk meteorite that was recovered after the event is similar to a common type of meteorite called LL chondrites. However, the near-Earth asteroid has a composition that is distinctly different from this," Reddy said.

They study also showed that linking specific meteorites to an asteroid is extremely difficult due to the chaotic nature of the orbits of these bodies.

Explore further: Russian meteorite sheds light on dinosaur extinction mystery

More information: "Link Between the Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (86039) 1999 NC43 and the Chelyabinsk Meteoroid Tenuous," Vishnu Reddy et al., Icarus, Volume 252, 15 May 2015. Visit www.psi.edu/news/reddypaper to see the paper.

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dtxx
4 / 5 (3) Feb 13, 2015
It still amazes me to this day. Only in russia can a 20-meter rock come rocketing out of the sky, explode, hit 1,000 people, and not kill any of them. What a bunch of tough and hardy freakin people. "In communist russia, giant asteroid is smashed by us."
Solon
1 / 5 (1) Feb 13, 2015
Take a lump of rock of similar size and composition as the one that was dredged from the lake, and drop it onto a frozen-over lake from 40,000 ft. What do you think will happen?
SamB
not rated yet Feb 13, 2015
I would guess it came from space??
jhananda
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2015
The Chelyabinsk meteoroid showed signs of a close encounter with a star, probably ours. It also was moving at about 75,000m/h (2,011.68K/M), both of which suggests that it was part of a larger asteroid, or comet that had a close encounter with the sun a few months earlier, and had its trajectory changed due to the forces of a solar disturbances, such as a CME.
Returners
1 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2015
Baked, not fried.

It could've come from anywhere, even another solar system.

If Tunguska was supposedly a 1/100 year event I definitely don't want to see that.

More advanced models have shown that a Tunguska sized explosion can happen with an object as small as 30 meters diameter if the approach angle and composition are correct, and the damage is so high because the kinetic energy of the object's velocity is added to the radiant energy of the thermonuclear explosion. A 30 meter object with the same composition would be almost 4 times as massive as a 20 meter object.

We don't have the technology to track 30 meter objects with the large enough lead-time to intercept them. Well, we have the technology, we don't have the space-based infrastructure and network of satellites, telescopes, and radars needed, and nobody except Russia is spending any real money on developing it either.

30m is easily deflected if you know it's coming.
adam_russell_9615
1 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2015
It still amazes me to this day. Only in russia can a 20-meter rock come rocketing out of the sky, explode, hit 1,000 people, and not kill any of them. What a bunch of tough and hardy freakin people. "In communist russia, giant asteroid is smashed by us."


Imagine the riots if it had blown up over detroit.

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