Kerr Watch

Elapsed time since Richard Kerr failed to inform his Science readers of the confirmation of nanodiamonds at the YDB: 6 years, 2 months, and 4 days

Linked?: Andrew Cooper on Feb 15 Asteroid and Russian Meteor




Not to be taken seriously. The first thing I noticed was a schoolboy blunder in  celestial mechanics:  you don’t add velocities in the way that he did, you add energies, that’s to say the squares of the velocities.  If an asteroid with an asymptotic approach speed of 5.6 km/s is going to hit Earth its  impact speed (prior to air resistance) would be  12.5 km/s, not 17 km/s. We can therefore safely ignore the rest of his story. — Noted Astronomer


Straight from Andrew Cooper, “Scute,” at Talk Bloke. Fascinating information and speculation — but darn it I hate to see the Tusk scooped in this regard.

Fortunately, when it comes to orbital calculations and intuitive dynamic visualizations of the solar system the Tusk is more than its author. Can any readers analyze and verify the claims made by the Scute at Tall Bloke?

Hat Tip: Phil Clapham at the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies



I will acknowledge that when NASA said that the Chebarkul meteor was not following along the same path as 2012DA14 they were right but only in a highly technical sense. Any fragment passing within a radius of a few thousand miles of the trajectory would not have impacted the other side of the Earth. But when considering the possibility of meteor showers, you have to think in terms of millions of miles, even for asteroidal showers such as the Geminids and the Quarantids, because the Earth takes days to travel through them. I think NASA was clutching at straws. You have to look at the bigger picture and besides, the proposition as put forward in this comment isn’t played out on a vast scale in solar system terms.  — Andrew Copper at talk bloke


The Chelyabinsk Meteor and a possible link with 2012DA14

I think the idea of the Russian meteor being related to 2012DA14 should be resurrected. I say resurrected because the idea was so roundly slapped down by NASA within hours of the impact and never discussed again. Most of the information below was gleaned from NASA’s own JPL Horizons ephemeris for 2012DA14.

Let me begin by addressing a few myths that seemed to sew it up regarding the lack of any link between the two

Firstly, the direction of approach was not on the night side of the earth but on the day side (2012DA14 flipped under and up round the back only in the last 5 hours) and the radiant was not, as variously described, “the South Pole” or -81 degrees (implied by the above as being -81 to the night side), but at -69 degrees on the sunward side.

Secondly, the radiant had a right ascension of almost exactly 00 hours ,that is, 30 degrees east of the sun (which was at 21 hours 54 min of RA on the day) in the equatorial plane. The Russian (Chebarkul) meteor came in at 13 degrees east of the sun in local horizontal coordinates.

Thirdly, the incoming trajectory of the meteor was not north-south but on an azimuth of 99 degrees i.e. 9 degrees south of east. Since it was sunrise this meant that the meteor came from a direction close to the sun (13 degrees east of it), in other words, coming in over a great circle running down the globe to the south, although a better approximation would be south east, This was possible because the Earth’s axis was tilted back by 12.5 on that date, making a late sunrise for Chebarkul, so watching the sunrise on a somewhat tighter, northern latitude line meant looking along a straight line that soon scribed south eastwards in lower latitudes (rather than curving round the 55 degree North line).

Fourthly, 2012DA14 was not going “too slow” for a related fragment to arrive at 17km/second: its radiant, relative velocity to the Earth before being accelerated was 12600mph. That is 5.6 km/ sec. If you add to that the freefall velocity of 11.2 km/sec (the corollary of escape velocity) you get 16.8 km/sec. Add to that the eastward rotation of the earth at 55degrees north at an Azimuth of 9 degrees south of east (0.2 km/sec) you arrive at precisely 17km/sec. This is the same calculation that Zuluaga and Ferrin (and now, NASA) must have done in reverse for their version of the reconstruction of the trajectory: I calculated the radial speed of their hypothesised orbits at the Earth’s position (r value/ radius from sun=1AU) on the day of impact (but without the Earth’s gravitational influence added) and ended up with 34.8 and 35.2 km/sec for the 2 posited orbits. That amounts to 5 and 5.4 km/sec relative to the Earth, respectively. Adding the freefall velocity and the eastward rotation you get 16.4 and 16.8km/sec. The difference between these posited orbits and the posited 2012DA14 fragment is that they invoke the head-on trajectory solution with little or no curvature as they are pulled into the gravity well. If it’s a bulls-eye hit the curvature is zero. The Zuluaga and Ferrin video shows the meteor coming in from about 3 degrees above the solar plane. The NASA video now shows the same.

I believe there are multiple solutions between head on (3 degree inclination) and an 11.6 degree inclination (11.6 deg being the solar plane analogue to the -69 degree radiant from a geocentric view). These various solutions involve increasing degrees of curvature as the meteor is pulled into the Earth’s gravitational well but curvature in freefall doesn’t make the final velocity any slower. By the way, none of these high curvature scenarios would involve capture in orbit- it’s either impact or escape along a hyperbolic path back out of the well. And high curvature means a 50 degree ‘q angle’ (half way through the turn). It’s the q angle that determines how far round to the north the meteor can curve and still impact rather than miss and escape.

The last myth is that at 55 degrees latitude Cherbarkul is too far North for any fragments to hit. This is not true because from a -69 degree radiant, the ‘equator line’, or tangent line, that 2012DA14 could see from below was shunted upward (from the real equator) on the sunward side by 21 degrees. Due to the vagaries of the trajectory of any purported fragment (see below), it would still require around 55 degrees of hyperbolic turn from that raised equator line onwards, although that describes a track all the way to Chebarkul- atmospheric entry would begin at 50 degrees round. For an idea of the sort of curvature needed for the fragment, I plotted a curve from first principles (subtracting the freefall component of velocity from the baseline, straight velocity of 17km/sec) and came up with a q angle of 50 degrees. For some perspective, the Apollo missions came in on a hyperbolic orbit at 11.2 km/sec and still got 69 degrees round the back of the globe, regardless of rotation and a sedate 1080 mile reentry. Even 2012DA14 curved 30 degrees or more for a q angle of 15 deg and that was under the influence of one tenth the gravity. 50 degrees is probably an upper limit but that is exactly what is required for a 2012DA14 fragment riding along on the radiant angle to turn in hyperbolically and hit Chebarkul at a low trajectory.

One other point, though not classifiable as a myth is that 2012DA14 is being characterised by NASA as a CO or CV type chondrite (carbonaceous with calcium and aluminium inclusions) based on spectral observations whereas they say the Chebarkul meteor is a stony chondrite because the few pieces found so far “are reported to be silicate rich”. This, they say, rules out any link. This may be true but the whole tenor of their delivery is one of running scared and has to be looked at in the light of the following quotes, all within a minute on one video:

[re 2012DA14] “there was no danger of a collisions, NASA assured people”

“… In a one in a million chance that still has NASA scientists shaking their heads”.

“These are rare events and it’s incredible to see them happen on the same day.”

As things stand as of 5th March 2013 , I feel that the evidence presented here is more convincing than some spectral measurements not chiming with a few reported silicate bearing fragments.

The radiant is on the right at 00hours 30M. The purported fragment didn’t have to be on this line , just slightly displaced and parallel to it a few hours back up range at say 80-100,000 miles.

So we now have a completely different, sunward radiant of -69 degrees of declination. In fact, for a fragment travelling 50,000 miles sunward from the track line of 2012DA14 and 16 hours ahead, it would probably come in from nearer to a -66 to -67 degree trajectory before being really hiked round on its hyperbolic orbit (its close encounter-to-impact trajectory). 2012DA14 itself turned in by 2-3 degrees from its side of the track in the last day before starting its 30 degree hyperbolic turn. A -66 or -67 incoming trajectory for the hypothetical fragment means the raised ‘equator line’ was up to 24 degrees higher on the sunward side, reducing the required curvature even further, possibly to 47 degrees before atmospheric entry. Indeed, that sunward fragment track, displaced as it is seemingly arbitrarily, at 50,000 miles over and parallel to 2012DA14 actually allows for 10-12,000 miles or 2 degrees of inward curvature from 03:00 on 14th February, 24 hours up range. This is before being really hiked in from a -66 to -67 degree point at about 22:00 UTC on February 14th, some 5 hours from impact.

You can download the ephemeris for 2012DA14 from JPL horizons website (click ‘web interface’ and enter ‘observer’ ‘geocentric’ and dates from 1st Feb 2013 to 28th Feb 2013 at hourly intervals). I suggest the entire month so as to give a better feel of what’s going on. It’s easy to scroll up and down quickly. It doesn’t show speeds but I got the figure of 12600 mph from a news item and checked it against the orbital speed and inclination of 2012DA14 for the vertical component, then derived the horizontal geocentric component from that. Those vectors do pretty well add up to a 12600mph, 69 degree slope until one or two days out (300k to 600k miles). The JPL video has 2012DA14 at about 13,500 mph at 4 hours out. I apologise for the lack of links, they are currently playing havoc with my formatting. I might do another separate comment with some links.

I have described the trajectory of the hypothetical fragment. Now I need to describe where to look for it in a forensic sense- using astrodynamics software to rerun different scenarios with the meteor exiting from a narrow window around the proposed path. If anyone here has astrodynamics software, please feel free to join in and prove it one way or the other. I have no software so feedback would be welcome.

The best place to look for the fragment is emerging from a window bounded by a geocentric declination of between -59 and -65 degrees and a right ascension of between 22H and 2H 30 minutes. The declination angles of the window aperture are less than the radiant and trajectory angle because the fragment is now cutting up through the angle lines, past the radiant, trying to get level with the earth in the same way that 2012DA14 cut the other way through the angles to come up the back: the radiant becomes irrelevant at this point and that’s why it was totally misleading to talk about a -81 degree radiant.

Also, because the fragment is cutting up through the declination angles, its own trajectory angle cannot be described with declination angles any more- except for a bulls eye geocentric hit. It has to be aiming over the top of the Earth to get a chance of being pulled in hyperbolically over the ‘new’ equator line for a hit. This means that whatever declination angle is chosen for the instantaneous position of the emergence of the fragment through the window, its actual trajectory angle would need to be greater by 3 to 6 degrees or so in order to aim it away from the geocentre to two or three thousand miles out from the equator line, that is, two or three thousand miles from the disc it sees above it and with the same right ascension as the RA of the fragment emerging at the window. This angle cannot be geocentric because it has to look as if it will miss the Earth. Looked at another way, it is a line running parallel to a declination angle that starts 3 to 6 degrees in from the fragment emergence point, measured radially inward. This jiggling of inputs for the fragments own inclination is nevertheless bounded by the upper limit of 69 deg, the true radiant angle. There is also potentially a small amount of leftward (solar plane y axis) component as they emerge round towards the 2H 30 mark because these are trying to pass by the side of the Earth but get caught. I think these, around the 0 to 1H mark (0 to 30 degrees of right ascension) are the best candidates.

That arrival window describes a curved slit sitting somewhere roughly below where the southern tip of New Zealand was at the time of impact. The fragment would be emerging at a trajectory angle of between -65 and -69 degrees of declination (that is, its own path angle as opposed to the box perimeter angles). This needs to be set at 10 hours 20 mins (clock time) up range (about 150k to 170k miles?) so that the fragment would be coming through it at 17:00 UTC on February 14th 2013. Some time not long after that the trajectory angle would start to curve in noticeably on its hyperbolic path.

I extended the window round to 2H 30M because of the angle discrepancy between the radiant and the final trajectory. This was up to 17 degrees when playing with equatorial-to-horizontal coords for Chebarkul (but one-way calcs made this inexact) and only 8.5 degrees using old fashioned cotton stuck to a globe.

Incidentally, using the globe method resulted in a view, looking downrange along the trajectory, identical to the several Youtube videos of 2012DA14 when freeze-framed at 3:20 UTC on 15th February. It was the view from DA14 as the Chebarkul meteor hit- you can see the beginning of the meteor’s ground track over Taiwan before it disappears over the ‘equator line’ at 22 deg north. You can see that its hyperbolic trajectory extends round and down past and almost parallel to you to your right, in other words, the same trajectory but displaced 50k miles to the right. This ‘almost parallel’ track would correspond to the sunward track of the fragment not being quite sunward but with a slight right ascension from that track of a few thousand miles so that the fragment came from further round towards 2H 30 but up and in on the correct line. This allows for the 8.5 degree disparity.

It should be said here that 2012DA14 seems to have corkscrewed itself by between 5 and 12.5 degrees depending on where you make the cutoff between true radiant and local approach. It is apparent in the ephemeris (you can’t see its subtlety in any video or diagram). It may seem to defy physics (not orbiting on a great circle) but I would ascribe it to the slowing down 2012DA14 as its orbit goes from inside track to outside track and its relative prograde motion with respect to the Earth went nearly to zero. It was almost stationary in the prograde vector, sitting at -86 declination and ready to be plucked up along the most convenient longitude line. Because there was some forward motion still, it did get plucked up pretty well opposite but not 180 degrees- the entire pass was 4 or 5 degrees inside one hemisphere, resulting in a 5 to 12.5 degree twist. If this happened to the proposed Chebarkul fragment, it would have skewed in exactly the necessary way to bring it round to this new ‘wrong’ 8.5 degree-off trajectory and heading over Taiwan, China, and into Chebarkul. This is why the search box extends round to 2H 30M. It’s because the fragment oversteps ever so slightly before skewing. For that reason, once you get round to 00H to 2H, the trajectory emerging from the box will have a sideways component to the left (positive RA) ie not radially inward. These candidates will be skewing 8-10 degrees anticlockwise as you look down on them as they rise and will probably do so over the last 80,000 miles. This is how their local ‘radiant’ is skewed round. That’s if DA14 is anything to go by.

The fragment would be travelling at about 13,000 mph through the window but it would be best to plug into the software ephemeris details for 2012DA14 for the speeds from far out so as not to start at an arbitrarily high speed. However, beware of piggy-backing on 2012DA14 data to extrapolate hypothesised fragment data. I have seen, among other things, a rather amusing graph that relied on like-for-like parallel trajectories with earth skimming fragments refusing to bend round under the influence of 10 x the acceleration 2012DA14 was experiencing. That is their ‘proof’ that the fragments can’t make it north of the equator. That was on a respected astronomy blog.

If all goes to plan, you should see all manner of near misses, flying over Asia and Russia, a few direct hits on the Southern Hemisphere in a wide band from New Zealand northwards and a few Northern Hemisphere hits, one of them right on Chebarkul. You’ll have to play with it though, maybe venture a little way outside the window if needs be. The worst that can happen is some very interesting near misses- but I really do think there will be hits. This need for playing around is reflected in the fact that some solutions could imply the need to add 5 or 10,000 miles to the track line displacement further uprange (back down the slope) for a possible 60,000mile or so displacement. You can’t use the 2012DA14 trajectory, displaced and pasted to the other track- it’s bending the wrong way from 24 hours out. Even a mirror image wouldn’t be faithful due to its greater radial displacement.


I will acknowledge that when NASA said that the Chebarkul meteor was not following along the same path as 2012DA14 they were right but only in a highly technical sense. Any fragment passing within a radius of a few thousand miles of the trajectory would not have impacted the other side of the Earth. But when considering the possibility meteor showers, you have to think in terms of millions of miles, even for asteroidal showers such as the Geminids and the Quarantids, because the Earth takes days to travel through them. I think NASA was clutching at straws. You have to look at the bigger picture and besides, the proposition as put forward in this comment isn’t played out on a vast scale in solar system terms.

I propose a fragment riding just 200,000 miles above 2012DA14 (north with respect to the solar plane). Just stating that baldly might understandably invite querying as to why they should be related. However, visualising it scaled down, it would be the equivalent of two tiny pieces of rock on an orbit 54 metres round, mirroring each other’s every move in speed, inclination and eccentricity, all the while staying exactly 2 centimetres apart, one directly above the other. I would consider those two pieces as related, one broken off from the other.

When the 65,000 mph prograde element of the Earth’s orbit is removed we get the geocentric element of relative movement between 2012DA14 (along with its hypothetical fragment) and Earth. Gone is the gentle 10 degree inclination with respect to the Earth’s orbit, with the asteroid climbing gently up a slope and sedately past the night side. It’s turned into a precipitous 69 degree climb, skewing round to vertical as 2012DA14 was apparently dragged up from under the South Pole and slung shot vertically above. That does serve a purpose for geocentric calculations and visualisations but it is as well to remember that it helps to plug mentally into the elongated, gentle slope version from time to time so as to get a good feel for what is really happening to the Asteroid and the purported fragment as they pass Earth.

Once the frame of reference snaps to geocentric you see the fragment rising up ahead of 2012DA14 and slightly to one side and they start to look a little disjointed. But when you snap back to solar system view with them both sailing along, rising up alongside Earth, you see that one is directly above the other: the 50,000 mile displacement is really just a 200,000 mile vertical displacement which, when looking down the -69 degree radiant makes them appear to be 50,000 miles apart. That said, there may be a fraction of further displacement to the outside of the orbit track too to allow for the skewing effect. They only ride on different tracks because of their vertical displacement and those two tracks went either side of the Earth. One was too close and the fragment hit (hypothetically). There’s something telling about that vertical nature of the relationship: the proposed fragment is following the exact same track but directly above. If it had been shifted a few thousand miles long ago, perhaps by a small collision, then previous close encounters, passing beneath the Earth would have widened that gap quite dramatically: 0.01mm/sec^2 differentials in gravitational acceleration add up to 4m/sec over a four day encounter within a million miles. That’s tens of thousands of miles per year. 200,000 miles isn’t as far as it seems.

I doubt if its possible but old sky scans might show up the culprit: at 12 million miles it would be 15 minutes of arc displaced from 2012DA14 when looking straight down the 69 degree track and would be offset at around the ’9 o’clock’ mark. For the 2012 pass at 6 million miles it would have been around one degree offset above at about the 12 o’clock mark.

  • Steve Garcia

    George –

    Pardon, but the name is “tallbloke” not “Talk Bloke”. You might want to correct that. I am well familiar with tallboke in regards to climate skepticism. He’s a pretty smart dude.

    As to Scute, I am more or less on his side, as little as I can gather from his rapid-fire and never-ending technobabble.

    No one else anywhere I have seen is talking about the transition from the Columbians’ orbit to the final path. And I know why.

    Because they know it came from directly to the left of the Earth’s orbit or – as he says – down below, from the direction of New Zealand. THAT I can actually accept, and gladly. A great circle arc along the final 279° heading would have come from down around New Zealand – IF it had a healthy Q angle.

    As far as anything that’s been made public, the other people don’t want to step on anyone’s toes by calling out the Columbians. There is NO possible transitional path if you start from what they came up with for an orbit. But they HAD to come up with that – so they could pretend this was “just another harmless Apollo” from “the totally benign Apollo neighborhood” – so everyone can just go on about their business, “There is nothing to see here.” 1/4 to 1/2 or more of Apollos are cometary asteroids, meaning there is nothing ordinary about Apollos. They are all over the map, characteristics-wise. If this one was a body coming out of the Sun, and it couldn’t have come from behind, then what do we call it?

    Scute was on some kind of good line, talking about this and the other object 2012 DA14 maybe being connected. But he was so disjointed I don’t know what to make of it overall.

    But we all know WHY – if they were connected – they are putting out all this drivel and NOT ANYWHERE showing the orbit and the final path connected. Because if it was connected to the 2012 DA14 object, then they all got caught with their pants down AND they don’t want anyone freaking out, ala 1938 and Orson Welles, that we can get bombarded by packs of objects. It is okay if Jupiter is, but they are in denial about the Earth possibly getting the swarm treatment.

    Continuing on about THIS object, assuming the final path was more or less a Great Circle path, if it had some Q angle at all (some degree of wrap-around), then it had to have come in low and not from behind. Or from slightly from behind but still low (and in that case from inside the Earth’s orbit); and in that case it would be less likely connected to 2012 DA14.

    But if its final path DID have come from somewhere reasonably close to 2012 DA14, then one is almost forced to admit it WAS connected. Such a rare occurrence, either one coming from below and so close to Earth it is like one in a million times one in a million that two could come from that direction and be so close to Earth. But now add another odds factor of a few thousand or billion that two could come within 16 hours of each other and from that direction and NOT be connected.

    As they say, the odds would be astronomical.

  • Steve Garcia

    George –

    Tallboke had this image in that article:

    It shows two great circle arcs, one of the 21012DA14 and the other of the Korkino/Yeklut object, and both paths come from below the Earth’s orbit. ***

    THAT is what I’ve been harping on for days and weeks now – that the Columbians’ orbits did not make sense. Not with the on-the-ground evidence.

    I don’t care about any infrasound stuff in Alaska – Alaska wasn’t anywhere near the path of the Russian object; it was 1/3 or 1/2 a world away. If they say it came another way, their interpretations are wrong.

    I tried simple connections of the Columbians’ orbit with the final path, and NOTING was geometrically possible. I tired to consider that somehow the object looped around the Earth more than once. But an object cannot loop until it is captured, which means its velocity has to be below escape velocity for the whole time. IOW, the Q angle would have had to be several times 360°. But the angles were all wrong.

    Scute’s path easily deals with ALL my concerns.

    If that puts the object on a path almost parallel to 2012DA24, then hey, they need to face reality.

    *** I DO take a little exception to Scute using string for determining great circle paths, though – it is REALLY easy to push it to one side and not know it. I HOPE he did it first on Google Earth. (When I did that, it came out pretty much in the sound between the North Island and South Island of NZ. But close enough.)

  • Steve Garcia

    One more point that Scute (Cooper) made was the mention of possible ‘twist’ to the 2012DA14 (I typo-ed that name in the last comment, sorry) body and then also to the Russian object. I had twist in my image in my head nut never put it down in black and white. I specifically can see how an object coming in off center could develop some twist to its wrap around during the Q angle transit. The Earth’s CG is pulling it to one side, and some objects I am certain do not get fully lined up on the CG before entering the Earth’s gravity well. Depending on their velocity when they DO, they can be a grazer or a captive. But if still not lined up exactly, that Q angle transit will NOT be a great circle. Scute talks about it as violating physics, but no violation is necessary. He talks about it being 5°-12°, and that sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

    I had thought it might take as many as 5 or 6 orbits of Earth to corkscrew from the Columbian orbit to the Russian final approach path. But to be captured, the velocity would have had to be below 11.2km/sec geocentric. The velocity of the Russian object we are told was 13-19 km/sec – ABOVE escape velocity. Before hitting the atmosphere I don’t see it accelerating from <11.2 to about 50% higher. Not in only 5 or 6 orbits. Those twisting loops might have been possible, but I don't think so for an object that entered the atmosphere at 16 km/sec +/- 3. It might be possible, but it doesn't sound reasonable.

    NOTE: I am not being so agreeable with Cooper's thing just because it seems to agree with what I've been saying. If the Columbians' orbit had been able to be rectified with the final heading or if it would have been possible for multiple loops around the Earth – both of which failed – I would have accepted the Columbians' orbit. If I turn out wrong, I will bow to those who show me the error of my ways. I don't have any ego in this (like some Bos who shall remain unnamed); it's just that if something doesn't make sense it doesn't make sense.

    I am going to take a stab at some astrodynamic software, like Cooper asked someone to do. I just got C++ loaded so I could run the software (I hope). I will blunder through it in the next few days and see what comes of it. If I have to do more than plug in values, it may be a long and probably unsuccessful slog.

  • Trent Telenko

    So…the bottom line is that the two meteors are more likely connected in origin than not?

    And NASA lied about it for reasons of hysteria prevention?

    This sounds more like a standard — AKA Bad & Unbelievable — Hollywood movie.

    Whether this is official “narrative” or bureaucratic “anatomy covering” against a “catastrophism confirming datum”, you all have a high bar to get over to communicate the truth, if indeed we suffered a “meteor swarm” impact event.

  • George Howard

    You said it not me, Trent.

    Seriously, I dont believe in conspiracies at all. I worked in a purportedly vast one almost until impeachment and it was not all that.

    I do believe in timid and lazy bureaucrats that don’t actually put pen to paper. This is one of those things that would be hard to “lie” about, but easy to take someone’s word, and so on, and so on…

    I also believe that people could be working on this stuff but takes time to be definitive, if they cant be definitive it takes even more time… Also, I think in the rush of news reports experts are somewhat forgiven for ruling it out if it is tricky to understand and takes a genius of some sort.

    That why I hoped someone out there — Jonny! Oh, Jonny!? — could hash it out. I used to think this stuff was something you plugged into a computer popped something out….But as I have come to understand reading the Tusk orbit talk, it seems there is a lot more ambiguity than that, which computers leave up to us I suppose.

    If not on the the Tusk — where? If not now — when?

  • Steve Garcia

    George –

    I haven’t been able to find any astrodynamics software that I can work with. All of them so far seem to assume prior exposure to them. I can do a bit more than “plugging into a computer and popping something out, but I am no Java programmer or database guy. (I tried databases for a good long while, and god are they boring.) On a level of 1 to 10 for tweaking and prodding things to give results I am about a 5. But so far I haven’t even gotten the software (3 of them) to come up to a welcome screen. I will keep trying.

    I had no clear idea that 2012 DA14 had come so close as to have a Q value.

    To me, that is on the borders of “slingshot city”. If that happened, yes, folks, I do believe that someone was stroking us from the beginning about that one. And that begs the question if they were ready for a possible companion. It also begs the question if they HAD actually seen the Russian object. I mean, if it was only 16 hours ahead of DA14 it should have been in the viewfinder, and if people were looking hard at DA14, someone should have been able to see it. Finding a body 10 meters wide is one thing when you are looking all over the sky, but when it is 5 days out or 3 days out and only 16 hours ahead of one you have been watching for a year. . .

    So, the first question could easily be, “What did they know and when did they now it?” Did they see it coming and determine that it was small enough it would burn up in the atmosphere? Did they realize it would likely graze/slingshot even more than DA14?

    Like Scute/Collins asks, how were they ready to say it was an Apollo asteroid only one hour after the event?

    I’m just saying.

    But it was no object from behind us and in a 4° inclined orbit.

    I also have to ask about what would have happened had it impacted directly. Could it have made it to the ground? I am of the impression that it may not have. Much smaller meteors have made it to the ground, though. Or maybe we could have seen what happens in one of Bos’ models.

  • Steve Garcia

    Speaking of models, I am prone to agree with those who think little of Bos’ models. Models are the basis of much of the output in climate warming studies. They specifically are the basis of the projections about how warm it will be in 2100, which are a great part of the alarm as it has gone around the general population.

    But in my skeptical circles people think very, very little of them. I am not qualified to hold an opinion, but can report that those models are held in very low esteem.

    No two of them can come up with the same results on a regular basis. This is even though they are supposedly based on the same parameters and “known” science. No ONE of them has ever been able to pass a test run in which they try to model recent climate history. That should be the first warning sign about those models.

    Being an engineer – which is the practical side of science, known as “applied science” – modeling something when the science is known makes a lot of sense. A lot of money can be saved and big, possibly dangerous, mistakes can be avoided. But in a frontier field where the science is clearly known to be not known – models don’t pass muster with me. Assumptions have to be made. In climate science CO2 is seen as the big “greenhouse gas” culprit, even though the “reflective” qualities of CO2 high in the atmosphere – upon which the greenhouse gas argument is made – are still anybody’s guess. One paper says THIS happens, and another says THAT happens. And CO2 – only 0.039% of the atmosphere – pales as a greenhouse gas compared to water vapor.

    And what do the models have to say about water vapor? They all readily admit that the actions of water vapor are almost completely unknown, quantitatively speaking. Some of water vapor’s effects are positive (toward higher temps) and some are negative (toward lower temps) – and they don’t know how much of each. Nor do they know yet how to model it. It’s true – go ask them. That means that they have to put ad hoc values into the models – in other words, assumptions. And that is part of why the models can’t match each other – no two modeling teams make the same suite of assumptions.

    Enough on climate models. Sorry for the digression. And I don’t want to hijack the discussion in that direction, but since tallbloke’s website is mainly about global warming, I thought I’d do it just this once, since some input about models and their unreliability in frontier science might not be a bad thing.

    …It’s bad enough when scientists make assumptions in textual papers, but Bos makes all those really cool images – that most people think relate to some real reality. But day before yesterday I was reading up on meteors and desert glass and ran across one paper that discussed a particular meteor that burst in the atmosphere. I was going to save the link, but I had to reboot suddenly and lost the link in the process.

    I was flabbergasted at the assumptions the astronomer was making. He assumed an ad hoc 100-fold reduction in one factor, and another 10-fold in another – in consecutive sentences. Then he made a 5-fold assumption immediately thereafter. And then – this was ludicrous – he claimed his explosion result was accurate to within 8%. The 100-fold was not even relating to a similar event, but to nuclear test explosions. Those explosions themselves really were not that accurately measured. Most of those were +/-20%! (You DO have to remember that sensing equipment back in the 1950s was pretty decrepit.) And it is even worse when you read up and learn that the estimated kilotonage was often off by 30% or more – even though they had previous tests to calibrate from.

    So, anyway, this guy (literally, IMHO) did the thumb-in-the-air impressionist gesture for the 100-fold guess, and repeated it for the 10-fold. Either one could have been off by 25% without batting an eye. 50% was not out of the question. And then he added another 5-fold one that was just as ad hoc.

    25% off is a range of 125%-75%. Take that 125% times 125% times 125% and then compare that to 75% times 75% times 75%. You don’t come up with an 8% uncertainty range. I come up with +95%/-58%.

    On NONE of those did he specify that the assumption could be made with 95% certainty, which is, to my mind, the rule of thumb in science. HOW the paper ever made it past the peer reviewers is beyond me.

    I bring that up just to sow how all of this about even meteors (a supposedly solid science at this point) really is not settled science. And if it is not settled – if the equations aren’t all known, and if the observing methods and measured results aren’t codified/standardized, then models are no more than mental exercise with cartoons attached.

    I don’t say this to argue that models should not be done. But if they are done, they should be given VERY little weight. If nothing else, garbage-in-garbage-out – and in a frontier science such as modeling Tunguska or airbursts for which there is little to no ability to set up experiments and confirm the assumptions being put into the model, almost every factor can be garbage being put in, or put in wrongly.

    Give me Schultz’s high-speed actual lab tests anytime. And if airbursts can’t be modeled and then successfully “compared to experience” (Nobel physicist Richard Feynman’s words), then the results should be – well, Feynman literally wouldn’t even call it science but pseudo science.

    I think that is pretty much Ed’s take on Bos’ work, too. Cartoons don’t have a lot of place in serious science.

  • Robewrt Grant

    Just the basics with no meat on the bones.

  • Trent Telenko

    The hard science is we are seeing more of these close approaching asteroids —

    Earth gets a rush of weekend asteroid visitors

    The passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system, is depicted in this handout image from NASA.
    By Irene Klotz, Reuters
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – An asteroid as big as a city block shot relatively close by the Earth on Saturday, the latest in a series of visiting celestial objects including an asteroid the size of a bus that exploded over Russia last month, injuring 1,500.

    Discovered just six days ago, the 460-foot long (140-meter) Asteroid 2013 ET passed about 600,000 miles from Earth at 3:30 p.m. EST. That’s about 2-1/2 times as far as the moon, fairly close on a cosmic yardstick.

    “The scary part of this one is that it’s something we didn’t even know about,” Patrick Paolucci, president of Slooh Space Camera, said during a webcast featuring live images of the asteroid from a telescope in the Canary Islands.

    Moving at a speed of about 26,000 miles per hour, the asteroid could have wiped out a large city if it had impacted the Earth, added Slooh telescope engineer Paul Cox.

    Asteroid 2013 ET is nearly eight times larger than the bus-sized asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on February 15. The force of the explosion, equivalent to about 440 kilotons of dynamite, created a shock wave that shattered windows and damaged buildings, injuring more than 1,500 people.

    Later that day, another small asteroid, known as DA14, passed about 17,200 miles from Earth, closer than the orbiting networks of communications and weather satellites.

    “One of the reasons why we’re finding more of these objects is that there are more people looking,” Cox said.

    Two other small asteroids, both about the size of the Russian meteor, will also be in Earth’s neighborhood this weekend. Asteroid 2013 EC 20 passed just 93,000 miles away on Saturday – “a stone’s thrown,” said Cox

    >Much Snipped<

    We seem to be experiencing a "meteor swarm" right now…at least in terms of total numbers of close approachers.

    I don't have the scientific background to evaluate the relationships between these various asteroids.

  • Since the mainstream news outlets are not reporting actual news, let’s get the word out on this to local astronomy clubs and the smaller college and municipal observatories in order to generate a ground swell to pressure Congress:

    Four-Asteroid Fly-By Is No April Fool’s Joke
    April 2, 2013 • 9:56AM

    Today the Earth was graced by “Close Approaches” by four asteroids, according to a short story covered exclusively by Russia Today. The largest of the four, 4034 Vishnu, 0.8 kilometers wide, passed 23 million kilometers from Earth, while the closest, EN 89, came just over 5 million kilometers from our planet (slightly beyond the Moon’s average 4 million mile orbit). While 4034 Vishnu was discovered in 1986, EN 89 has been known for a mere “fortnight.”

    While this fly-by story is treated seriously by RT (aside from an “April Fool’s joke” reference), today’s Houston Chronicle somewhat glibly posts a projection of what a 1 kilometer “space rock” would do if it struck the city, albeit without drawing any planetary ramifications. The “Science Guy” posting nonetheless portrays in graphic form that the central city would be completely destroyed by the resulting 2 kilometer radius crater (“good news: Houston is no longer flat…”), the 20 kilometer zone in which “steel buildings would be knocked over,” and the 30 kilometer zone in which “clothing ignites.” As for the good news: “There is no good news,” he says, “This is not to want.”

    The only April Fools here are the ones who aren’t taking these warnings seriously.

    Rogozin Urges Putin to Place Asteroid Defense on G-20 Agenda
    April 13, 2013 • 10:37AM

    In a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Deputy Prime Minister Dimitri Rogozin urges that the “Strategic Defense of the Earth” be placed high on the agenda of the upcoming G20 meeting in September. Russia is presently chairing the G20, which will hold its next summit September 8-9 in St. Petersburg.

    In the letter, “leaked” to the newspaper Izvestiya, Rogozin says, “The scale of the task of neutralizing the asteroid threat requires the concentration of global intellectual resources and the scientific potential of Russia, the United States, and other countries of the world… Such a program of cooperation will increase trust between the nations and at the same time create the conditions for ending the confrontation over the missile defense program.” To conduct such a program, Rogozin is calling for the creation of a new structure under the auspices of the United Nations, which Rogozin calls a “space IAEA.”

    Rogozin calls this “the project to save civilization from threats in space.”

    Russian Response to the Asteroid Threat: Calls for International Cooperation to Defend Earth
    February 22, 2013 • 11:25AM

    Russian government and scientific institutions have responded to the Feb. 15 Chebarkul meteor explosion and the near-Earth asteroid flyby of the same day with concrete ideas to address the asteroid threat. Some of these have already been reported, but we summarize them all here to provide a comprehensive picture:

    Immediately after the explosion near the Ural city of Chelyabinsk, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin announced that on Feb. 18 he would be submitting proposals to Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev on ways to predict and prevent disasters from space. Writing on Twitter, he said that the package would be an “objective picture” of the blast and “proposals on future possibilities for the country to determine the danger of objects approaching the Earth and prevent [them].” He also reiterated his 2011 proposal for an “international initiative” to create a “system” to prevent space threats. Rogozin said on Twitter on Sunday that “the essence of our idea consists of joining the intellectual and technological efforts of industrial nations,” Russian, U.S., Chinese, and European industries as examples.

    On Feb. 18, the Russian State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee chief, Alexei Pushkov, said, “Instead of fighting on Earth, people should be creating a joint system of asteroid defense.” Pushkov continued, encouraging a multilateral drive for asteroid protection: “Instead of creating a [military] European space defense system, the United States should join us and China in creating the AADS — the Anti-Asteroid Defense System.”

    The same day, Lidiya Rykhlova, of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Astronomy, described a 58-billion-ruble (approximately $2 billion), ten-year program for asteroid defense, worked up by the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2010-2011. Rykhlova said that the program has been approved by the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, and now “it is on Rogozin’s table.” She said that Russia is aiming to establish one or two telescopes dedicated to finding asteroid threats.

    Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, in a wide ranging Feb. 20 interview with the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, also discussed the Chebarkul meteorite and the asteroid threat in general. He called for international cooperation on this issue, and even raised the challenge posed by long-period comets.

    “We put this question on the agenda for discussion at the III International Meeting of Senior Security Representatives, in June 2012 in St. Petersburg. The Russian Security Council has repeatedly proposed to develop an Intergovernmental Targetted Program to counteract space threats associated with the asteroid and comet danger and the build-up of space trash…. Comets may also present an even greater danger, since their velocity as a rule is greater than that of asteroids, reaching several tens of km/sec. The great majority of known comets have very elongated elliptical orbits, so the task of forecasting their appearance and trajectories is extremely complex. At present, the only comets that can be considered accessible for observation and threat evaluation for a collision with Earth are short-period comets with orbits within the solar system.”

    Another important call for international cooperation came Feb. 20 from Konstantin Tsypko, representative of the Chelyabinsk Region in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of Parliament, who called for a heads-of-state summit on the matter. He addressed the “economic consequences not only in Russia, but also worldwide,” stating that “both the Russian government and the international community are paying special attention to the asteroid threat and the need to protect the planet Earth as a whole from the dangers that space objects pose.” As a result of the Chebarkul meteorite, Tsypko said, “I think it will result in increased investments in science and technology that can provide early warning or will affect asteroids, meteors, comets, so they will not reach the Earth. … It would be logical to hold an international conference with the participation of heads of state to discuss the problem of an asteroid threat to Earth. Chelyabinsk is the first city in the history of our civilization that has survived a space attack.”

    Also yesterday, RIA Novosti reported that Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces have been given the task of defending against objects descending from space. “The Aerospace Defense Forces have been ordered to handle this issue and come up with a plan to protect Russia from these ‘space travelers,'” said Maj. Gen. Igor Makushev, aviation commander for the western Military District.

    “None of the existing systems, either Russian or American, detected this space object until it entered the atmosphere,” Director of the Astronomy Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Boris Shustov said on Wednesday. Shustov said that astronomers have discovered and catalogued only two percent of potentially dangerous space objects about 50 meters in size, which are capable of causing a catastrophe worse than the 1908 Tunguska Event. “It is a sign of our ignorance, as we should be able to monitor about at least 90 percent, if not all of these objects,” Shustov said.

    Patrushev Calls for International Space Warning Programs
    February 26, 2013 • 11:30AM

    Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev today took the call for international cooperation against the asteroid-comet threat to Earth, to a two-day Urals region national security conference dedicated chiefly to fighting illegal narcotics. The host city, Yekaterinburg, is one of the two Ural Mountains cities with populations of over 1 million, the other being Chelyabinsk, near which the Chebarkul meteorite exploded on Feb. 15. Patrushev took the opportunity to expand on his statement, made in a Voice of Russia interview Feb. 20, on the need for “interagency cooperation among nations possessing the needed capabilities.” In that interview, Patrushev recalled that Russia had put the asteroid-comet threat on the agenda for discussion at the III International Meeting of Senior Security Representatives, which he hosted in St. Petersburg last June.

    Today, IA Regnum reports, Patrushev said that there need to be special, international space security programs. “The meteorite’s falling in Chelyabinsk confirms the need for joint work with other countries to ensure asteroid-comet security,” he said. “We have already proposed to our colleagues from other nations to develop intergovernmental programs. Now this is all the more important, insofar as this time neither Russian nor foreign specialists were able to report the threat in a timely fashion.”

    Russian Federation Council Calls For International Anti-Asteroid Program
    March 13, 2013 • 11:12AM
    SDE Update: Federation Council Resolution

    The Russian Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, held a special meeting on March 12 on the subject of the defense of earth from space objects. The special session centered on a “round-table” discussion involving three ministries of the Russian government, two of whose ministers participated personally, along with the head of Russia’s space agency Roskosmos; the head of the Energiya state rocket-booster company; and other top experts including three specialists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, according to a Russian-language wire from the government news agency RIA-Novosti.

    The following is an initial report:

    Boris Shustov, Director of the Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), said that to be able to defend ourselves from dangerous cosmic objects, we need a combination of earth- and space-based sensors. Special telescopes are needed, like one which exists in Russia’s Baikal region. We also need wide-angle telescopes, which Russia doesn’t have yet, but should build, combined with space-based systems.

    Viktor Lopota, president of Russia’s (state-owned) Energiya rocket corporation, which builds the worlds biggest currently-operating launch vehicle, said that super-heavy launch vehicles will be required for the defense against meteors. He said the US is planning to have one with a capacity of 70 tons by 2017, and a successor with 130 tons capacity. (Certainly not under Obama — ed.) Russia should produce such larger rockets as well.

    Alexander Ipatov, Director of the Institute of Applied Astronomy of the RAS, said that NASA has found 800,000 near-earth objects, but some specialists judge that that only comprises 2% of the total.

    Oleg Shubin, director of testing for nuclear warheads and military nuclear energy systems for the Russian atomic agency Rosatom, said that nuclear explosions will be necessary to deflect any asteroid over 1 km diameter. He said this will require going beyond the megaton class of nuclear explosives, (presumably to the gigaton class, which has never been done). This is possible to do from a technical standpoint, he said, but there are questions about the nuclear test-ban treaty and the non-proliferation treaty.

    Another panelist was Boris Chetverushkin, director of the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics of the RAS.

    Vladimir Popovkin, director of the Russian space agency Roskosmos, announced that Defense Ministry and Academy of Sciences officials will make up a working group to launch proposals for the creation of a unified system able to defend against asteroids and other “cosmic threats.” The time has come, he said, to join efforts and resources to face this threat, given that an anti-asteroid defense of the Earth is a mission requiring international cooperation. Among other things, what are needed are development and increase in the efficiency of observation systems for small bodies and space junk and their classification, as well as design and trial runs of the means to act against these threats. He also emphasized the need to be prepared to send exploration missions to asteroids and comets that represent a potential threat to the Earth. “The selection of the concrete method of action should be done as a function of the size, mass, composition and properties of the dangerous object,” he said.

    Russian Minister for Emergency Situations Vladimir Puchkov said that the “international cooperation in the field of an early warning systems must be expanded. It makes sense to form an international cosmic task force which includes orbital space satellites with special equipment.” He added that collisions between Earth and asteroids and bigger meteorites that are approaching the planet, can be only be forecast in time to act, if the international potentials of systems in space and on the ground are pooled. Puchkov also noted “that it is necessary to conduct research and surveys on the implementation of the International Global Monitoring Aero-Space System (IGMASS), and the subsequent development of the projected system. We at the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia have already started to work on this outline.”

    Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who launched the proposal for international cooperation in the “Strategic Defense of Earth” in 2011, a continuation of Lyndon LaRouche and Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative from the 1970s-1980s, said that no country in the world has the means which could block the impact of an asteroid. International cooperation is necessary.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry was also represented in the round table.

    The Federation Council resolution passed by the session said, “According to assessments of numerous Russian and foreign specialists, the likelihood of a crash of Earth with bigger cosmic objects (asteroids and comets) is given, which not only can lead to the creation of natural and technogeneous emergency situations, but also to a catastrophe of global dimensions.” It called for a cross-ministerial information and assessment center. As for Russia in particular, the resolution calls on the government to see whether the existing governmental program “Cosmic Activities of Russia 2013-2020” can be utilized for the research and development of space technologies for early warning against threats from space. In the mid-term perspective, a more comprehensive program will be worked out, the resolution says.

    Rogozin, at London Embassy, Calls for Defense Against Asteroids
    April 17, 2013 • 9:02AM

    While resources in the United States, Russia, and many other countries are being wasted on an arms race in missile defense, the focus should be shifted to a global defense system against dangerous asteroids, said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in a speech at the Russian Embassy in London yesterday.

    As reported by RIA Novosti, he said: “We have recently witnessed the [meteorite] event in Chelyabinsk. No one can say whether more such incidents will follow, whether we are guaranteed against meteorite strikes. Scientists are baffled by the billions that are being spent on missile shield … while a space threat to the whole of humanity is being ignored.” Russia however seeks international cooperation in creating a global system to monitor and exchange information on potentially dangerous space objects, he added.