Bolide Shockwave Injures 1000+ in Russia: Black Swan — or I Told You So?





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Black Swan

As readers know, the Tusk is generally uninterested in current events related to our subject. We stick to the past unless we simply cannot ignore the present. But, in the end, we study the past so that we may be more prepared for what happened this morning in Russia.

This humble blog has some of the most informed and open-minded readers in fields related to this event of any source on the internet. I hope our regular commentors and others will develop an informative thread of observations.


  • George Howard

    First time I have seen this particular vid:

  • That 500 kilotons of explosive energy had to come from somewhere. The meteor either lost a considerable portion of its mass in that detonation, or it gave up a lot of momentum, or a goodly amount of both. Either way its difficult to imagine there being enough remaining mass with enough remaining momentum to account for an escape velocity, and/or trajecory.

  • Steve Garcia

    Hermann –

    It isn’t exactly scientific, but this video at
    shows the meteor as it approaches.

    At the 0:48 mark the dashcam is pointing right at the Sun, and the meteor is first visible, and it is coming from just to the left of the rising Sun, on a diagonal path toward and to the right of the camera. The video’s clock shows 09:26. An online sunrise calculator at gives the sunrise at Ch. as 09:21 and the azimuth as 112.49°.

    That is 22.49° south of due east, and only five minutes before the dashcam clock time.

    If you look at the glow “dome” of the rising sun, the meteor is JUST to the left of the peak of the dome, which peak I interpret as directly over the Sun. So I’d say the meteor is coming from – basically – 111-112°, or 21-22° south of east. Someone on another site said it was “coming out of the Sun”, and pretty much that is true. Though that is the point at which it is first seen, that is NOT its direction.

    The direction of travel is not straight toward the dashcam. It is skewed off at some diagonal toward the right. The next 9 seconds show it traveling at an angle that I would estimate as about 20° off of directly at the camera. (Then the car turns and we can’t see anything undistorted through the windshield.) Hahaha – and on what do I base that angle? you might ask. As an engineer I have had to deal with a LOT of angles over the years, specific angles. 15° and 30° I have dealt with so much I can see them in my sleep, and I have seen them at all angles of above and below. I can tell you that the angle is NOT as great as 30°, which would be 1/3 of that quadrant of sky. It might be as small as 15°, but certainly not much smaller than that.

    So, I would say the angle would be 112° minus about 20°, or about 92° +/-5°. It is essentially coming out of the east and traveling almost due west.

    That is my estimate, based on as solid and specific information as I can find.

  • Steve Garcia

    Dennis –

    I am mostly with you about it escaping the atmosphere. Certainly most of it didn’t. I am open to some of it having escaped, but I wouldn’t be surprised if none did.

    The 500kt explosion – which is what they reported at Nature – HAS to indicate that some of the bangs – that the biggest one – were not sonic booms. If there was a 500kt explosion above the city, the pressure froma sonic boom could not be as big. I think the biggest bang one was the burst.

    In one video I believe I counted SIX visual flares. I counted on one video, but now I can’t find it again. But another had at least four.

    agimarc –

    Thanks for the info on the sonic booms. With ~4 flares and 2 or more sonic booms, that should be about 6 peaks in the sound. I tried to find a video with sound and no background sound, so I could look at spikes, but I couldn’t find any.

    LOL – Personally, I think this was a very instructive meteor, and I think people will be learning from it for some time to come.

  • Hermann Burchard

    great stuff! We are all engineers here, can follow you, and easily see what you are doing.

    Some additional details which may confirm your data further, I believe:

    The video you are using exists somewhere in isolation, saw it in compilations, & it may be from near te city of Ufa, Bashkortostan, which is South of West, almost due West, of, and about 200 miles from, Chelyabinsk — both cities are near 55 degrees North latitude.

    Map coordinates:

    Ch.: 55.15, 61.378

    Ufa: 54.75, 55.97

    (I haven’t done the spherical geom here.)

    Dennis, I’m with you as well, with a caution to the effect that the trajectory is very smooth to the bitter end, no sign of any discontinuity in the function and derivatives. My experience with curves, computing trajectories, is vast, as Steve’s is with angles, and if the thing went bust, there ought to be a few kinks, which just don’t show.

  • Steve Garcia

    Hermann –

    In reference to trajectories, I want to ask the simple and basic question:

    Why are there TWO trails through most of the “biggest” part of the trajectory?

    I have speculations. I’d rather someone who knows tells me.

  • Steve Garcia

    Hermann –

    Hold your praise…

    One confusing issue for me on the path is that I looked at the angle from 0:48 to about 0:56, while the vehicle was on a straight road (heading just to the right of the rising sun, which would be about azimuth 130-135°) . At about 0:58 or so the vehicle takes a 90° right turn. (Based on the square building, it is not a >90° turn). That should put that road bearing at about 220-225°. But then after the turn, the object’s trajectory is going to the LEFT of the roadway and just about parallel to that road.

    Because of the curvature of the windshield, the trajectory during the turn appears to be curving (which I know it isn’t doing). Then, coming out of the turn the trajectory is more or less parallel to the 90° road.

    Trough the entire turn, the object is still in the camera view. VERY ODD.

    That part has me flummoxed. I know from other videos that the trajectory is straight as an arrow.

    After ten viewings, I still can’t make out what it is showing. Even in stop frame I can’t process what the video shows then. If it was coming at the dashcam at an angle of even 30° it should have gone on overhead and past the right-angle street – but it sure doesn’t seem to do that in that video.. It seems to be making a curved trajectory, and it isn’t just the distortion of the windshield that is making it look that way. But what else it could be, I don’t know. Optical illusion? I was fine when the car was going straight. Why the trajectory seemed to be going at (92°-to-) 272° and then seems to be going at about 230°, I can’t compute.

    . . .Unless my original calcs were just dead wrong.

    That is my guess right now.

  • Hermann Burchard

    [by George, this is how to address you!?!]

    Because of the curvature of the windshield, the trajectory during the turn appears to be curving (which I know it isn’t doing). Then, coming out of the turn the trajectory is more or less parallel to the 90° road.

    Trough the entire turn, the object is still in the camera view. VERY ODD.

    That part has me flummoxed. I know from other videos that the trajectory is straight as an arrow.

    The dash cam is recording a straight trajectory [almost, Earth’s gravity is bending it slightly] on a rotating platform, the curvature is RELATIVE to the platform, not due to the curve but reflecting the car.

    If this is Ufa, Bashkortostan, 200 miles East of Chelyabinsk, then it should be near the end of the luminous path. And Google maps should allow finding the exact point where the auto is making that right turn,
    < 90 degrees.

    Is this not almost the same car track as your posted video?

    BTW, Wikipedia has the epicenter 40 km South of Chelyabinsk, in Korkino. This explains why the meteor came from South of East.

    Your double trail question:

    Why are there TWO trails through most of the “biggest” part of the trajectory?

    I have speculations. I’d rather someone who knows tells me.

    This is my question as well. Must be something about how the ablations do occur in their detail.

    Dennis is a blast expert, I wish he would give it a thought.

  • Hermann Burchard

    [cont’d] . . . where the auto is making that right turn < 90 degrees,and, second, the edge-of-windshield effect seems to bend the trajectory again, although in reality it is straight as an arrow. A third factor is your focus on the moving end-point, all three combine to an optical illusion.

  • The twin contrails can be explained simply by recognizing that the meteor began to break up into smaller fragments almost immediately after hitting the upper atmosphere, and well before any of the fragments had slowed enough to go into dark flight. That fact alone tells us the folks in Chelyabinsk got lucky this time. There was enough mass and kinetic energy in the thing to take out a good sized city. If it had possessed the structural integrity to remain intact just a little longer, and detonated in a single more powerful low altitude blast, or even worse, impact the ground without detonating first, and with all kinetic energy intact, then the intensity of the blast wave reaching the ground, and the resulting devastation could have been many orders of magnitude worse. I can take a half pound of ordinary black powder and put it into a bunch of firecrackers that don’t do much more than make a lot of noise, even if a light all the fuses at the same time.  But if I pack the same amount of powder into a single charge I’ve got enough concentrated energy to instantly accelerate a small cannon ball to supersonic speeds and blow a great big hole in a steel reinforced concrete wall.

    Beyond all that I’m waiting for fragments of the thing to make it into someone’s lab so we can have a better idea of it’s composition and better data on it’s velocity and exact trajectory before I turn my imagination loose. I also want to see some detailed infrasound data from NASA that’s synchronized with some of the more detailed dash cam videos with it  if they don’t get too stingy with it. The trouble for the curious folks like us is that NASA will probably be reluctant to release much of that data. Not because the data itself should be withheld, but because it will be difficult for them too release it without revealing too much about what their remote sensing technology is actually capable of.

  • P.S. The “curved windshield effect” and the object remaining in the camera’s view for so long, begins to make more sense when you recognize that it has nothing to do with the the curvature of the windshield. The simple explanation is that the dash cam was shooting through a wide angle fish-eye lens.

  • I’m starting to think Dr. B may be right, although completely not at first. Dennis you are the one making my mind change, because truely nothing’s so small would survive 0.5 Megaton shot and be cold a second later, especially if its spitting out the back end at speed.

    But the real tell tale heart here is what is left before our eyes as Dr. B beautifully reminds us. Lame debris cloud! Not fairly lame at all here people – COMPLETELY LAME! There was almost no plume or vapor trail at all.

    And as for the spalling, I kind of like that word to hint at the chaotic fragmentation concept, but clearly that whisker thin whisp of a debris cloud, or “effluent” cloud, doesn’t look like a Boslough-simulated total bolide consumption plume AT ALL. Hello? Especially not with stuff flying out the back end. What the heck was that thing anyway!?!

    I think Dr. Boslough still needs to model the “grazer” that sheds whimpy whisps of plume to figure this one out. If he hasn’t yet my guess is that he may be about too….

    Shock waves can echo off of objects like normal sonic oscillation (sound) can. The mathematical solution follows a different convolution but the effect is comparable in many ways. Thunder echoes off of clouds weakly I believe because of the weak variation of impedance of the cloud boundary, and fireworks sounds echo off of buildings all the time with high efficiency due to the typically high impedance of the building’s surface(s). These are not shock waves, however once the initial over pressure has disapated. Anyone who has ever survived a close call with lightning can tell you the “POP” before the boom hurts the ears the most. Usually we only hear boob-ba-boom etc of the thunder.

    Another thing, shock waves travel faster in lower temp since there is less thermal vibration and therefore less space between particles inthe medium of propagation. That area of the world is known for its insanely cold high pressure winter air masses. I learned this while trying to navigate spacecraft above the region with albeto (sp?) limb sensors. Looking at the videos the entire region was clearly under a high pressure cold air mass (from piloting and Metieorology) evidenced by the uniform clear blue sky. So the shock would have disapated more gradually (propagated more efficiently) and delivered more energy over a longer distance.

    So Dennis, what degree of over pressure will blow out that garage door and knock in that brick wall at the metals factory? If we start with an estimate of what it takes to do that we can make a guess at strength 3 minutes earlier when the shock wave was formed… What we’ll likely find is that it was a large grazer. The reason I’m very sure of this now is the cold air dome again. The same cold air mass and clear sky mentioned above tend to refract light through a very high angle, which when you combine it with the trajectory in the imagery, means those Russians (and plenty more of their neighbors and countrymen) were exceedingly lucky that day. That was larger (or more dense) bolide that only partially burned during a grazing incident before flying back away from the surface after close approach (brightest flash or just before) over the horizon.

    I just don’t think there is any way it got very low. I think the shock raced a long way down very quickly in cold conditions because whatever it was essentially maintained speed for the entire passage (!!!) and barely got dusted off in the process. Clearly – from the whisper thin trail and from the departing, rapidly re-cooled bolide. Finding the chunk in the lake will be a milestone in this case.

  • Steve Garcia

    Hremann – Thsnks dor your feedback. I’m still not clear yet, but IO will get there. I agree that the car was near – but past – the end of the the luminous path. It was high in the windshield’s frame, but still on view.

    Dennis – Yes, it makes some good sense that it had already fragmented in order to make two trails..

    Dennis – “Beyond all that I’m waiting for fragments of the thing to make it into someone’s lab so we can have a better idea of it’s composition and better data on it’s velocity and exact trajectory before I turn my imagination loose.”

    I wonder if there is ANY possibility someone got the burning on a spectrograph. I doubt it, but it may have happened somewhere by accident. I think the small samples I’ve seen photos of could be unrepresentative and give the wrong impression of what the bulk of the object was.

    I also wonder f there was any water/ice. I still wonder that a meteor was coming at us from so close to the Sun. I thought NEOs tend to have orbits in which they more or less parallel the Earth. Since comets have thrown some curves at people about the “dirty ice ball” concept, is it also allowed that some meteors might have ice? I am open to the possibility that this object may have come from “out of the Sun” because it wasn’t a meteor at all. Ergo my question about ice.

  • Jonny


    You are probably thinking of the class of NEO’s whose orbits are similar to the Earth’s, but even in this case there are earth asteroid geometries in which the object can come from the sunward side. Generally NEO’s can have many different orbital elements, with their only prerequisite that they approach the orbit of the earth. As such you can have different degrees of eccentricity, which allows for a whole gamut of different earth approaches since high eccentricity objects will tend to be earth crossers and so can approach the earth from the solar or anti-solar directions. With the orbit determination of the Russian meteor, the Earth encountered the meteor when the latter had passed its perihelion and was moving away from the sun.

  • I’m still considering the bolide impact plume particle collection and sampling by high altitude aircraft. Obviously we can’t wait another couple of decades for another large bolide to drill it’s way down to 50,000 feet and explode, but in conjunction with the existing optical detection network something might he able to be done with more precise sampling of well tracked trails. They are detectable optically, they show up on weather radar and they also ionize the atmosphere for radio wave reflection (meteor trail UHF DX. I’m not sure how an actual sample collection device might work since it’s not in a vacuum and it would be traveling quite fast through the air.

    Once the impact ellipse is determined from this impact and any consistent macroscopic particle distribution is determined it may indeed be possible to get some surface ice and snow samples and then take a look for any spherules and melt quenched impact plume byproducts. That would help immensely to establish a baseline that might help legitimize the field of microscopic impact proxies.

  • Steve Garcia

    Jonny –

    Thanks for the lowdown on NEOs. I am not totally surprised some are high eccentricity, but if the graze the Sun like that, does it make them more like comets than asteroids or meteors? I know, NEO does not mean only meteors and asteroids. I would consider filing this one as a cometary NEO, I think.

  • Hmmmm… Ok Tim, Since they’re reporting the 500 kt kabooom  originated at 20 km altitude, (The shock that bashed in all those windows was a detonation shockwave, not a mere sonic boom. But since it was expanding outward from the blast at the speed of sound we can easily confirm the distance to the blast in videos that show both the flash, and the windows getting blasted in. We can also get a pretty good confirmation of the power of the blast if we work backwards from the structural strength of the bashed in window frames, and knocked down walls.) and the low end of the contrails is about that height, then if it barely got dusted off in the process as you say, and rapidly began to to cool as it began skipping back out, how do you account for the assumed rapid cooling of the object and shutting down of the contrails at only 20 km if it hadn’t lost any velocity?

    Also, if it “barely got dusted off” then where do we get the energy to produce a 500 kt detonation without sacrificing a considerable amount of mass and/or velocity?

  • Trent Telenko

    NASA has a “numbers problem” with it’s ‘once in 100 years’ blather about the Chelyabinsk Meteor Event.

    From a brief web search and limiting the data to Hiroshima size or larger events from Tunguska on —

    Tunguska, Russia, 1908 — 10-to-15 MT ?
    Rio Curuca Impact, Brazil, 1930 — 100 KT-to-5 MT ?
    Arroyomolinos de León, Spain, 1932 — 190 KT
    Benghazi, Libya 2009 — 12–to-20 KT
    South Sulawesi, Indonesia, 2009 — 31–to-50 KT
    Chelyabinsk, Russia, 2013 — 500 KT *

    (* Yes, use wikipedia with care)

  • Excellent Dennis, thank you –

    That’s what I mean. It couldn’t have been so low as to cool immediately after the bright flash if it were still moving fast. That quick darkening to me is implying it was much higher up, which could be explained by faster moving shock due to the cold conditions.

    (D. Cox) “The shock that bashed in all those windows was a detonation shockwave, not a mere sonic boom”


    So tell me what the overpressure is on a 500kt shot.

    The shock wave doesn’t travel at the speed of sound, as I mentioned in the Feb 22nd post above. It travels faster than the speed of sound by a factor dependent on the degree of overpressure. That’s why its a shock wave and not just normal sound (proverbial “sonic boom”), and likewise why it is able to deliver damaging energy. So when you start multiplying those 3 minutes of delay by speed faster than the speed of sound, and even faster due to cold, you start getting (from the first speed of sound URL of my google search):

    just a W.A.G. ~= 675 mph at -50C
    so you get more like 33 miles, not 20 km (!) or 178,000 feet in altitude.

    One hundred seventy eight thousand feet in altitude. (about 54 km) But that is speed of sound, not SHOCK which travels faster, so farther in a given time.

    That’s the Ionosphere (~70 km and up) we’re talking about. Now its important to note that shock wave speed will be lower as height increases, but three minutes of transit time combined with damaging effects upon arrival are telling us that this was a significant blast. Very significant.

    Temp and therefore shock speed vary plenty through that range of altitude, and there is the question of how much energy the wave could carry from thin air into thick air, but remember the high pressure dome over that area this time of year and the energy transport becomes more likely possible.

    The bolide wouldn’t have to sacrifice much mass or velocity for 500Kt worth of detonation energy because its energy is in the form of Kinetic which goes 1/2*m*v^2 or
    1/2 times (mass) times (velocity SQUARED)

    Now square the velocity of 15 miles per second, and you get the idea. A tiny bit of mass at that speed has plenty of punch

    The video evidence is about optics and heat transfer.

    Looking at the (darkened) object departing the scene after the flash(es), already many miles away and moving farther away at that point, the relative motion in the wide angle video frame implies it was still traveling at many miles per second when it “went dark” AFTER the flashes and contrail were created. It seems to fly down to the horizon, but very rapidly, because it is actually flying off a great distance beyond the horizon back into space.

    Simply the fact that ANY object at a distance of 20 or more kilometers was visible from the ground in a wide angle video frame is telling us that this was a very large object. A single pixel, even from the HD dash cams that are common today, translates to a very large object at that distance, and that fly-away object was more than a single pixel. What is that telling us? The pixel count of object size and lens F.O.V. along with an estimate of distance to the dark object after the flash (ground distance and altitude) will reveal the object was at least the size of a large building, but I’m guessing more like 50 to 150 meters in diameter.

    I’ve spent many years studying wide angle imagery, both stills and video, and it can play some serious tricks. The simple angular resolution and relative motion within the frame, combined with the great distance of the dark object after the flashes tell the tale clearly. The dark object was plenty fast and plenty far off, still at astronomical speed by all means, most likely very close to approach speed.

    Heat transfer is the other key here….

    Think about rapid onset hypersonic ablation for a minute. Think about the meaning of ablation to begin with. Burning surface material leaves the heated/ing surface and carries off the heat with it in the process. Rapid onset means heat never has a chance to penetrate the deeply frozen ancient bolide. So how do you turn off the switch of a fireball hotter than the surface of the sun and immediately get a cold object? Simple.

    It never got hot to begin with. Most of it didn’t anyway. Only a small fraction.

    As the outer layer of the bolide was vaporized and ablated away, it carried heat with it. This happens at extremely high altitude, with ionic stripping as a driving mechanism in the very rarified upper atmosphere (ionosphere). As the heat is applied momentarily, the outer layer launches off of the bolide carrying heat with it, and radiating like crazy because of the extreme temperature. Irradiative heat transfer rate is a function of the 4th (fourth) power of delta temperature. So the hotter something gets, the brighter the color and more joules per second get carried away from it in the form of IR radiation.

    The ionic heating doesn’t reach deep below the surface, however, which is why the Apollo astronauts survived the ride back in the tiny capsules.

    The amazing thing is that heat transfer is time dependent, so this also means that the bolide doesn’t have time to absorb much heat at all because all of the “hot” leaves with the ablated surface particles. I always tell my kids – “heat transfer is a time dependent process”.

    Remove the forcing function (ionic bombardment) and the process is quickly terminated.

    Also, I don’t think it was a double trail. I think it was a low density thermal plume that was shock-driven outward very briefly and then rose convectively as it cooled.

    Three (3) points of interest, and these are the most important of all:

    1) “Departing from atmospheric encounter” means, by definition, “still Earth crossing”. This means bad news some time in the future, although it could be a long time, because this thing will come back and eventually impact Earth’s surface or atmosphere more directly (see 2012 post from T.L.E about computer study of asteroid simulation stating that initial close or grazing encounters almost always result in object eventually being absorbed by the body encountered)

    2) The government is not giving you the whole story. Think about it. If the government knows this thing is coming but it isn’t clear if it is going to kill tens or hundreds of thousands or miss completely, what are they going to tell you? If its going to come back and they aren’t sure when or where yet, what will they tell you? They will either tell you nothing, or they will tell you it was small and burned up in the encounter. But they can’t change the dozens of independently posted pieces of video evidence, or the damage or the injuries sustained on the ground, or the physical laws that dictate what is in the videos.

    3) Use your brain. Call your congress-folk and tell them to identify and cover the threat. That is why this web site exists and that is why you are reading this right now. No joke.


  • Reviewing some imagery again, it looks like the Russian job did indeed split into two main fragments during the critical exposure (rapid heating and brightening – the flashes)), quite fortuitously, as the southern or lower one of the two fragments is absorbed by the atmosphere and its plume comes to a swollen stop in that process (terminal plume) while the Northern or upper plume generating chunk continues at high speed and may be seen (relatively) gradually dimming and getting dark as it flies away. That is the typical signature of a grazer.

    Then there are a few fragments (?) just behind that larger leading chunk, and a slightly discontinuous ‘dash’ of plume along the fly-away chunk path.

    In the videos where the shock impact is “caught on tape”, the camera is at a steep angle underneath the swollen endpoint of the terminal plume. This terminal plume is likely the cause of the majority of the shock that damaged the surface.

    It looks like we get a sample of each type of behavior in this fantastic event!


  • Hermann Burchard

    These videos are really tricky to interpret, Tim. On some, the two “halves” of the vapor trail look asymmetric, one coming to a swollen stop, as you write, the other proceeding on a longer track ultimately departing from the planet.

    That apparent asymmetry most likely is caused by parallax. On this video it’s not there, the two sides, left & right seem completely symmetric in detail to an amazing degree, probably because it is shot from a better angle.

  • Tom Holsinger

    Mr. Harris,

    I have some issues with a 500 kt yield detonation at the optiumum burst height to maximize the 5 psi overpressure zone, producing the demonstrated results here at 33 miles distance, particularly on the factory. The same yield detonation at the same distance in altitude (33 miles above the surface) runs into even more issues due to the atmosphere at such an altitude being to thin to convey significant amounts of blast energy, and particularly so in conveying it to lower altitudes whose greater density would tend to absorb some of the blast energy.

    Basically a detonation at 33 miles altitute needs to be of far larger yield than 500kt to produce the surface blast effects shown in photos.

  • Here’s an interesting piece from MIT’s Technology Review: Astronomers Calculate Orbit of Chelyabinsk Meteorite

  • Steve Garcia

    Dennis –

    My first reaction to the astronomers’ calcs is that they are on drugs.

    The orbit diagram at
    shows the object coming essentially tangential to the Earth’s orbit. . .

    1. I assume the Earth’s position is at the time of the encounter.
    2. The object’s inclination seems to jibe with what Jonny said – about 4° off the ecliptic.

    That means it is essentially at a right angle to the Sun.

    At 0:15 of the Hermann’s last video, look at the shadows of the trail. . .

    A. It is quite interesting that the UNDERSIDE of the trail is lit up well by sunlight.

    B. The image apparently is of the point at which the big blast occurred.

    B. Mostly the near side of the trail is lit up – but not all. Some of it is in shadow.

    C. SOME of the shadow appears to be toward the downfield end of the “clouds”.

    D. [Not from the video] The Sun rise 5 minutes earlier was at heading 112.49°, according to an online sunrise calculator.

    I submit that if the object was traveling as shown in the diagram – passing the Earth nearly tangential to its orbit – that:

    a. The path would be either in the midnight region of the Earth’s night side or

    b. The path would be in the noontime region of Earth’s day side

    c. a. and b. clearly could not be farther from what is seen in the videos, where the object is coming out of the dawn – meaning from the general direction of the Sun.

    d. I conclude based on obvious video images that the astronomers have got it wrong.

    Look at this video – a copy of the one I tried to calculate a bit from) and see if it is coming from that a direction tangential to the Earth’s orbit (i.e., at nearly 90° from the Sun): / Watch? sEH0T_NvF V =- U

    When it first comes into view, the object is CLEARLY in view ABOVE the arc of the Sun’s glare and a bit to the left. The center of that glare’s arc is, of course, the Sun. The object cannot be more than 2 or 3 apparent solar diameters to the left of the Sun.

    There can be no doubt: As the video begins the dashcam is heading almost straight at the Sun. The right edge of the glare is directly in line with the straight roadway.

    If the object were on a path nearly tangential to the Earth’s orbit the object would be FAR to the left and not visible in the car’s windshield or in the camera’s view.

    How can an object “coming out of the Sun” ALSO be at right angles to the Sun?

    I look at that diagram and wonder “Where did they get their numbers?”

    Hey, guys, if I am dead wrong, can someone point at my error?

  • Steve Garcia

    Yes. a. and b. are not the only possibilities. I forgot to include those. I got ahead of myself.

    But the object could not possibly be coming out of the Sun, given the path shown in the astronomers’ diagram.

  • Steve Garcia

    Okay, something I typed didn’t get in that last one. (???)

    It should have read:

    Yes. a. and b. are not the only possibilities. The object could have gone over the top of the Earth or below it. I forgot to include those. I got ahead of myself.

    But the object seen in the videos could not possibly be coming out of the Sun, given the path shown in the astronomers’ diagram. Since the object WAS coming out of the Sun… QED

  • Hermann Burchard


    let me try to figure this out (from scratch). On my Desktop I have your 3-D orbit diagram and also the 2-D orbit diagram from the Wikipedia article “2013 Russian meteor event,” both magnified. Both diagrams show the orbit of CM (the Chebarkul meteoroid) crossing Earth’s orbit from inside to out, moving away from the Sun. The 3-D has it going down, from above the Ecliptic plane to underneath where “up” is North. Orbits are counterclockwise, E to W.

    Region of events has map coordinates about 55 N, 61 E. The event time is stated as 3:20 UTC, local time should be about four (4) hours later than Greenwich or 7:20 am, but because of a weird Ch (Chelyabinsk) time zone is 9:20 am, officially. I will use local time, 7:20. From your comment, the Sun rises five minutes earlier, 7:15 local time, late by 1:15 hrs because it is February and 55 N is fairly far North (S Hudson Bay).

    The Earth axis is tilted away from the Sun, around it the Ch meridian turns counterclockwise. Put the Sun at the center of a circle (rim of clock dial) and Earth in the six o’clock position. Ch is on the right side of Earth (a smaller circle in the six o’clock position), rotated about 19 degrees upward (toward the sun) to account for the late sunrise.

    Now picture the meteor CM coming from the left inside the rim crossing the clock rim near the six o’clock position. It is descending from above the clock dial at a gentle angle to below while it exits the rim passing tangentially over a part of the surface of Earth that is facing up on the right of the Earth.

    I wish the Tusk would function like a sketch pad or white board, so that I could draw this arrangement for you right on the Tusk!

  • Hermann Burchard


    To complete the solution, consider the location of sunrise on the horizon. Steve Garcia (on Feb 20) calculated the sunrise to be 22.5 deg S of E, and as the season progresses it keeps moving N, as long as we stay S of the arctic circle. The effect this has is difficult to put in words w/o drawing a picture, but it changes the angle made by the meteor orbit and the line of sight to the sun at sunrise. At Chelyabinsk on Feb 15. the result was what we see in some of the videos showing the sun glow with the meteor appearing above it: The orbit is deflected westward (toward the right side from the sun). Steve estimated the angle to about 20 deg. Now imagine the sun and meteor coming up due East, then the orbit would be aimed slightly N of because the meteoroid is crossing outward over Earth’s orbit. That angle is the difference 2.5 = 22.5 – 20 between Steve’s two angles, so that should be the anomaly of the meteoroid, the angle of its orbital plane with the ecliptic, kapeesh?

  • Steve Garcia

    Hermann –

    This part I don’t think I will agree with:

    On my Desktop I have your 3-D orbit diagram and also the 2-D orbit diagram from the Wikipedia article “2013 Russian meteor event,” both magnified. Both diagrams show the orbit of CM (the Chebarkul meteoroid) crossing Earth’s orbit from inside to out, moving away from the Sun.

    I am 100% certain those both are wrong.

    The intersection of the two orbits shown on those diagrams appears to be about 10° or 15°. Yes, technically, you would be right (as far as the diagrams are concerned) that the CM is crossing the Earth’s orbit from inside to out. But look at the view from the Earth, looking at CM. Which was is the SUN? WAY to the left – in those diagrams. Basically 90° to the left. No object can come at us only 15° off OUR orbit and still look the way it does in the videos. 15° more and it would be coming at us right straight tangent to our orbit. And THAT is looking out into space, not at the Sun. In ALL the videos I’ve seen of its first appearance CM is almost directly in line with the Sun.

    Go look at the videos. The Sun is in the same direction as CM. NOT 90° to one side.

    George’s at shows CM appearing to the RIGHT of the glow of the rising Sun. And in the same direction.

    The one I’ve been working with mostly shows CM just barely to the left of the Sun, and above it. I will concede that it could pass from below to above before entering the atmosphere. After all, its orbit was (as we have been told) only 4° tilted.

    I agree with the diagram in The Telegraph at
    that George has at the beginning of this post, and that Jonny linked to on Feb 15, 5:38pm.

    Look at where the Sun is! CM is “coming out of the Sun”.

    This one:!

    Can anyone tell me that isn’t coming from the direction of the Sun?

    Look at the direction of the trail at the beginning of the video. The rising Sun is to the RIGHT, but just a little bit. [The astronomers show the Sun 90° to the LEFT. How wrong can they BE?]

    The car is on a curve to the right. Because the cam sweeps from left to right, you can see where the Sun is. You can SEE where the brightest glow of the Sun is. CM is coming FROM that direction. There is no doubt.

    No go look at the astronomers’ diagram and description. I just can’t believe they could get this so wrong. Basically they are 90° wrong.

    Guys help me out here. What am I seeing wrong? Either the videos are wrong or the astronomers are wrong. They can’t both be right.

    They aren’t both right. The astronomers diagram and text are incompatible with the evidence in the videos.

  • Hermann Burchard

    Oops, wrong orbital element: The 2.5 deg angle would be the inclination (not the anomaly).

  • George Howard

    Come on guys. Give me some orbital analysis love over at the lede Mars post!

  • Jonny

    George, There’s nothing much to go on at the moment with C/2013 A1, and not much to talk about its orbit that hasn’t already been said in the links.

  • Trent Telenko

    So, if the the Chebarkul meteoroid is not an Apollo asteroid family object.

    Then what is it?

  • Steve Garcia

    Trent –

    It seems to me that if the early take on it was that it came from the direction of the Sun (which is in agreement with basically every video I’ve seen), then it was either:

    – An NEO with a Sun-grazing orbit, more or less (which means highly elliptical)


    – It was a comet.

    It definitely was crossing the Earth’s orbit at nearly a right angle.

    I’d mentioned in one earlier comment that comets are not necessarily “dirty iceballs” anymore; they can be just about any configuration. The delineation between meteor and comet isn’t as clear as we all used to think. I’d bring up my Oort cloud cometary origins doubts here, but that is for another day.

    That this one air burst so high in the atmosphere suggests (to me, anyway) that it was awfully friable – though to give it credit it WAS in the atmosphere a long distance before the air bursts. Friable tends toward it being a comet, I would think.

    So my semi-illiterate guess right now is that it was a small dark short-period comet. What else goes close to the Sun?

    I know, that puts me out there in left field, but it sure as heck didn’t come from a near-parallel orbit. There is not ONE video that shows that. They astronomers based their assessment upon ONE video from some square. All the videos I’ve found from that square so far aren’t looking at buildings. Why they have not used others I don’t know. Maybe they did, but if they did they didn’t say so in what I read.

  • Jonny

    Steve, They used the security cameras since they are stationary/fixed and would have had the most reliable time keeping. You are forgetting though that the results that they obtained match the image taken of the objects entry by a weather satellite And actually they used two videos (they needed a second one fro triangulation), and the “impact crater” in the ice. they are continuing their analysis (trying to exclude the ice crater as it may have nothing to do with the event, and may even have been faked).

    Also the data from the infra-sound stations confirm the trajectory, and that preliminary reports indicate that the object consisted of stone and iron (which is not typically associated with comets). Also see the images of recovered fragments here

  • Hermann Burchard

    this video

    shows vapor trail illuminated from the South, shadows on the North side of cloud portions. So the trail’s angle to sun rays is at nearly 90 degrees, the asteroid orbit making a shallow angle with Earth’s orbit.

  • Steve Garcia

    For (probably) the few among those here that don’t already know much of this, I found this about the Apollo asteroids:


    Article Name: Searching for Comet Cores Among Apollo/Amor Asteroids – by C.A. Wood, SN4/NASA Johnson Space Center

    ASSOCIATED METEOR STREAMS: Sekanina (4) discovered that the orbits of the Apollo asteroid Adonis and the Sigma Capricornids meteror stream are so similar as to imply “a likely evolutionary relatinoship.” Because meteor stream are known to be derived from comets, Sekanina’s discovery strongly implies a cometary origin for A/A’s with associated meteor streams. Indeed, the Apollo object Hephaistos has an orbit similar to that of comet Encke! Sekanina (4) and Drummond (5) have ound that ten Apollos and three Amors can be associated with meteor showers; since most Amors do not cross Earth’s orbit, detection of Amor-related meteor streams is difficult.

    GEOCENTRIC VELOCITY: Anders and Arnold (6), noting that Apollo asteroids fell into two groups differing in geocentric velocity, proposed that the low-velocity group was asteroidal and the high-velocity group was cometary. With more that three times as many Apollos no known compared to 1965, the bimodal grouping still exists; based on a minimum in the velocity histogram I propose that a geocentric velocity of 0.8 marks the division.

    HIGH e, i, Q: Because most main belt asteroids have low to moderate values of orbital eccentricty (e) and inclination (i), higher values are often considered (eg., 14) to imply a cometary object. I consider i > 20° or e > 0.5 to suggest a cometary origin. Similarly, Marsden (7) believes that the single most important factor for distinguishing asteroidal and cometary orbits is the a[ehelion distance (Q). Only 95 asteroids (out of 2500) have Q > 3.9 AU, and no known comet has Q 3.9 is taken to indicate a possible cometary object. . .

    CONSTANT ECCENTRICITY: Taking into account secular perturbations of orbital elements, Kozai found that of all the asteroids only 11 (all A/A’s) have nearly constant values of e, and hence their apehelian [sic] and perihelion distances vary. This is also a property of short period comets andhence Kozai proposes that these 11 are the remains of cometary nuclei. . .

    DISCUSSION: … A remarkable result of this simple study is that 51 of the 64 known A/A objects have one or more cometary characteristics, and 17 (26%) are cometary in half or more of their properties. The spectral types of the most comet-like A/A’s (=>50% CC in Tabel 1) are not definite but include one possible ordinary chondrite, three S types, two C’s, a diogenite, three U’s, and eleven unknowns. If all of these objects are derived from comets, then traditional concepts of comets as core-less dirty snowball are incorrect. Likewise, it would seem impossible for such a diverse group of inferred chemical compositions to have formed in the outer solar system, reinforcing ideas (10,11,12) that many small bodies which formed in the solar system. . .

    …If so, derivation of Apollos from the asteroid belt by way of the Amor orbits may be very inefficient and perhaps the majority of Apollos are extinct comets.

    QUESTION: Do we know what KIND of Apollo they are saying that Chelyabinsk (Korkino) was? And its characteristics?

    (I am not done with the path – I have some interesting additions… but it is taking a while.)

  • Trent Telenko

    I have a real problem with the blast energy budget for this Chelyabinsk event.

    When I plugged 500 KT yield into the nuclear effects generator, which is based upon “The Effects of Nuclear Weapons”, 3rd Edition, by Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan, at this link —

    The damage at Chelyabinsk was mainly consistent with a 0.25 psi blast line, see —

    0.25 psi — Most glass surfaces, such as windows, will shatter within this ring, some with enough force to cause injury.

    (The collapsed factory could either be the result of either or both poor construction and multiple blast reflections adding up at that one location.)

    Plugging 500 KT yield into the hydesim calculator gives _8.63 miles_ (13.887 km) for the 0.25 psi line.

    Hydesim blast effect key below —

    Overpressure Key

    15 psi Complete destruction of reinforced concrete structures, such as skyscrapers, will occur within this ring. Between 7 psi and 15 psi, there will be severe to total damage to these types of structures.

    7 psi Severe damage to complete destruction of reinforced concrete structures, such as skyscrapers, will occur within this ring.

    5 psi Complete destruction of ordinary houses, and moderate to severe damage to reinforced concrete structures, will occur within this ring.

    2 psi Severe damage to ordinary houses, and light to moderate damage to reinforced concrete structures, will occur within this ring.

    1 psi Light damage to all structures, and light to moderate damage to ordinary houses, will occur within this ring.

    0.25 psi Most glass surfaces, such as windows, will shatter within this ring, some with enough force to cause injury.

    When I go to, they give the following table —

    These many different effects make it difficult to provide a simple rule of thumb for assessing the magnitude of harm produced by different blast intensities. A general guide is given below:

    1 psi Window glass shatters
    Light injuries from fragments occur.
    3 psi Residential structures collapse.
    Serious injuries are common, fatalities may occur.
    5 psi Most buildings collapse.
    Injuries are universal, fatalities are widespread.
    10 psi Reinforced concrete buildings are severely damaged or demolished.
    Most people are killed.
    20 psi Heavily built concrete buildings are severely damaged or demolished.
    Fatalities approach 100%.

    Suitable scaling constants for the equation r_blast = Y^0.33 * constant_bl

    constant_bl_1_psi = 2.2
    constant_bl_3_psi = 1.0
    constant_bl_5_psi = 0.71
    constant_bl_10_psi = 0.45
    constant_bl_20_psi = 0.28

    where Y is in kilotons and range is in km.

    Blast effects need air to work on and there was not much air at 33 miles altitude. And this is leaving out density effects with the sonic/blast wave energy wave.

    Active sonar pulse waves run into layer effects as its transmission medium gets thicker, which bend and attenuate sonar pulses in colder, saltier & denser sea water.

    Short story — either the Chelyabinsk blast was a whole lot bigger, or it was a whole lot lower.

    I think there is a problem with the the nuclear infrasound detectors people keep quoting as being definitive because the detectors are calculating yields for either hidden nuclear testing or optimum altitude blast yield nuclear detonations.

    They cannot cope with really high altitude meteor bursts because there is not a data base of real world data to calculate with.

    Others have noticed this problem as well, see this blog post —

  • Trent Telenko

    Here is another point on the infrasound detectors.

    Their calculating software models assume;
    a) An instantaneous energy release,
    b) A point source, and
    c) An energy release inside the sensible atmosphere,
    as those are the characteristic’s of a nuclear detonation.

    The Chelyabinsk event was none of the above.

    It wasn’t a nuke. So it was not an instantaneous event.

    It was hypersonic AND thus the energy of the extended event was smeared across tens of kilometers of upper atmosphere.

    The 500 kt infrasound number can’t help but be pure GiGo — garbage in and garbage out.

  • Steve Garcia

    Okay, I don’t think this YT video has been posted here. It took me a while to find a good one with some really good views.

    15 minutes. 10 minutes of direct video views – lots and lots. And lots. From all sorts of POVs.

    I was going to post all my disagreements, with the astronomers, but I figured out how to rectify their findings with the observations.

    Let’s just number things:

    1. NOT ONE video showed a parallel, grazing trajectory. The only ones that did not show a downward trajectory were the ones directly underneath. Scores of angles from the N, S, SE, SW, NW, NE, E – all showed what looked like the later end of the trail was lower than the start. If ANY of them showed

    2. The astronomers determined that the object entered the atmosphere on a 20° downward slope. I am of a mind to agree with that.

    3. The first thing that tells us is that this was no grazing, skipping-off-the-atmosphere impact. This one was doomed to hit or blow up before it reached the ground.

    4. One view, in Korkino (about 30km S of Chelyabinsk), appeared to not only be directly under the path, but was apparently directly under the big blast, too. Conclusion: It should be called the Korkino meteor.

    5. All the views from the towns S of Korkino showed the meteor N.

    6. All the views from the towns N of Korkino showed the meteor S.

    7. ALL of the videos that also show the rising Sun also show that the object appears to come from very near the direction of the rising Sun. Ergo, my impressions from before were not incorrect. But I now think this does not refute the astronomers.

    8. The azimuth of the sunrise was about 111°, 21° S of due E.

    9. In all the videos wher it could be seen well enough, the object was coming from the left of thee Sun. Therefore it is reasonable to say that the object was traveling more or less due west across the Chelyabinskaya province.

    10. The astronomers’ claim that the object became visible at one height and exploded at a lesser height appear to be correct.

    11. Meteor fragments were found at Lake Chebarkul, the one with the round hole.

    12. The heading from Korkino to Lake Chebarkul is 276.5°, about 6.5° N of due west.

    13. With its downward slope of 20°, the object would have impacted somewhere about as far west as Lake Chebarkul, perhaps a bit farther.

    14. The geometry of the Earth vis-a-vis the Sun at the moment of the blast was this:

    14a. Korkino was high on the surface of the Earth, relative to the ecliptic.

    14b. Korkino was facing at almost a right angle to the Sun. I.e., UP at Korkino was at right angles to the Sun. Also I.e., Korkon was facing along the Earth’s orbit in the direction of the Earth’s travel. Figuratively speaking, if the Earthe were a bus, Korkino was high on the windshield, and pretty much halfway across the windshield.

    14c. The object was traveling in the same direction as the Earth, but coming up from below the ecliptic at an angle of about 4°, and was coming from slightly inside the Earth’s orbit. So, it was coming from behind, slightly from the lower left. The sideways angle was about 20° as it caught up with the Earth.

    15. The astronomers determined that the object was closing on the Earth at about 13-19 km/sec. That is pretty fast. The Earth travels about 30 km/sec and so do most objects in this region of the Solar System. The gross velocity of the object was about 43-40 km/sec. Wow.

    16. The Earth was leading the object, so the gravity of the Earth was accelerating the object, right till it entered the atmosphere. Thus, the high velocity has some reasonableness to it.

    17. The question arises: HOW did the object coming from behind blow up just in front of a spot high on the centerline of the windshield?

    17a. It seems the Earth’s gravity well had to have captured the object as it was passing the Earth on a slightly upward path. This veered the object into a semi-slingshot orbit – but one which failed to succeed. (Again, this is consistent with the high velocity of the object.)

    17b. The object did not have the proper trajectory around to slingshot and keep on going. Its path became a spiral down to the Earth’s center of gravity.

    17c. As the object “caught up with” the Earth, I am certain that it came in slightly below the center (slightly below the ecliptic).

    17d. The object seems to have passed the Earth on its left side – the side facing the Sun.

    17e. Just as it caught up with the Earth, the object went into a tight right turn (which was really a spiral).

    17f. In looking at it, it is my impression that the object could not have taken the path in the atmosphere that it did – coming from where it did – unless it orbited the Earth at least one time. I say this just by looking at the final path vs the incoming path – I can’t see how it could have done that on the first pass.

    18. More than 50% of Apollo asteroids exhibit some characteristics of comets.

    19. Main Belt Comets are members of the main asteroid belt that exhibit some cometary characteristics, including outgassing/forming of a tails/comas. Some objects in the main belt were originally thought to be comets, but later were given the designation of asteroids. And vice versa.

    20. Calling the Korkino object an Apollo asteroid, then, does not necessarily end the story.

    – – – I have probably figured something wrong here, but I gave it the old college try. I didn’t see originally how the scientists could have been correct, but if we consider that the object did not come down on a direct line to the Korkino area, we can rectify the videos with the astronomers likely path. If the Earth captured the object on a very close pass-by, it COULD go into a tight spiral around the Earth before entering the atmosphere – and then hit or air burst on the “hidden” side of the Earth.

    I would VERY much like to see what kind of detail the astronomers show for the last part of the object’s path. Did it turn and nosedive right away? Or did it loop around a few times before its orbit decayed enough to enter the atmosphere?

  • Steve Garcia

    BTW, the Korkino part of the video starts at 1:13.

    You can hardly see the “tail” for a while, it is coming so much straight over.

  • Jonny

    Here is a Google Earth .kml file which shows the trajectory of the bolide as supplied by Alan Fitzsimmons of Queen’s University Belfast It denotes the 16 seconds of luminous flight, and ranges from an altitude of 91 Km down to about 15 Km. Vertical lines mark disintegration points.

    You can see that its angle of incidence is about 20 degrees, and has a heading of about 282 degrees. So it is coming from slightly south of east (Not northish to southish as initially reported).

  • Hello for all

    Russian meteorite fragments…………..


  • Steve Garcia

    Jonny –

    Thanks. I’d say that was pretty darned close. And like I said, it should be called the Korkino meteor.

    When I twist and turn Google Earth for the one best video view I found, the angle from there is just about perfect. I like that angle of incidence and heading.

    But I also am hoping to find about it’s transition from the low-to-high orbit behind the Earth into that final approach. It cannot be a very simple transition. (If it is, I will have learned something.) That final approach is like at a right angle to its orbit around the Sun.

    That is a really good look at the downward angle. That angle made all the videos tough to figure out the angle. I’m glad someone could do it better than me.

    But that angle should also dispel ideas that part of the object skipped out of the atmosphere. That object was well and truly captured. And the amount of velocity lost was huge – it couldn’t have had the velocity to escape. Especially with the geocentric velocity being only 13-19 km/sec.

    I’d also point out that Lake Chebarkul, where the fragments have been found, was directly on that line and only 18 km downfield.

  • Steve Garcia

    A few more bits:

    The town of Belonosovo was actually closer than Korkino. It passed 6 km south of Korkino, and the big burst was 8.25 km away. Belonosovo was only 3 km away from both the path and the big air burst.

    So, I correct myself. It was the Belonosovo meteor. . . 🙂

    The sunrise azimuth was at 111° for Chelyabinsk/Korkino. The first appearance was on a heading of 104.25° from Korkino (just to the left of the Sun). It was 113° from the center of Chelyabinsk, just to the right of the Sun. But I have not seen any video from the center looking back at the object; the views are from cars I know not where. So, very literally, someone saying it “came out of the Sun” was not wrong.

    It is rather amazing that the Sun was rising right then, to give such a great reference.

    One can better understand ancient accounts of “the Sun was breaking up” or the story of Phaëton.

    When Phaeton [“shining”, the son of Helios] obtains his father’s promise to drive the sun chariot as proof, he fails to control it and the Earth is in danger of burning up when Phaeton is killed by a thunderbolt from Zeus to prevent further disaster.

    Son of Helios and the thunderbolt destroying the object = “coming out of the Sun” and then the air bursts – a better ancient, un-scientific description of the Korkino meteor would have been difficult to find. Can you imagine the reaction to the shock wave while watching the fiery object careening across the sky, just after bursting before their eyes? Thunderbolts, indeed! And then, at the end, it just fades to nothing (is killed, certainly). In the language and paradigm of the day, what could be more obvious?


    This would be a strong argument against Velikovsky interpreting Phaëton being Venus – when a “simple” meteor burning up in the atmosphere is a match item for item of the Phaëton story. Venus is not required at all.

  • Maybe this’ll help. There’s new paper in arXiv regarding the orbit of the Russian meteor.

    A preliminary reconstruction of the orbit of the Chelyabinsk Meteoroid

    Jorge I. Zuluaga, Ignacio Ferrin


    In February 15 2013 a medium-sized meteoroid impacted the atmosphere in the region of Chelyabinsk, Russia. After its entrance to the atmosphere and after travel by several hundred of kilometers the body exploded in a powerful event responsible for physical damages and injured people spread over a region enclosing several large cities. We present in this letter the results of a preliminary reconstruction of the orbit of the Chelyabinsk meteoroid. Using evidence gathered by one camera at the Revolution Square in the city of Chelyabinsk and other videos recorded by witnesses in the close city of Korkino, we calculate the trajectory of the body in the atmosphere and use it to reconstruct the orbit in space of the meteoroid previous to the violent encounter with our planet. In order to account for the uncertainties implicit in the determination of the trajectory of the body in the atmosphere we use Monte Carlo methods to calculate the most probable orbital parameters and their dispersion. Although the orbital elements are affected by uncertainties the orbit has been successfully reconstructed. We use it to classify the meteoroid among the near Earth asteroid families finding that the parent body belonged to the Apollo asteroids.

  • Jonny


    I thought I had already posted that paper, but looking over the thread, I obviously hadnt. I had posted it a few places, so I think I just got confused. Have had a sinus infection and a 4 day headache, so that may have had something to do with it too!

    Its a good paper.

  • The term “impacted the atmosphere” is one we don’t hear enough. Too manny people forget that we live on the bottom of a sea of air. Or that slamming into the atmosphere at 18,000 miles per hour is more violent than slamming into a stone wall at hundreds.

  • Trent Telenko

    The 0.25 psi damage line for a 500 KT explosion is a straight line radius distance of 13.887 km from a point source, instantaneous, detonation.

    The pathway and demonstrated damage effects the Chelyabinsk boloid don’t work for a 500kt energy budget.

    See from the article:

    In table 1 we present the properties of the trajectories defined by the extreme values of
    the independent parameter d.
    Property Symbol d = 50 km d = 72 km Units
    Height at BP HBP 32.47 46.75 km
    Elevation BP h 16.32 19.73 degree
    Azimut BP A 91.60 96.48 degree
    Latitude below BP  54.92 54.81 degree
    Longitude below BP  62.06 62.35 degree
    Height at FP HFP 20.31 25.04 km
    Radiant declination  12.38 12.39 degree
    Radiant right ascension RA 22.44 22.07 hour
    Meteoroid velocity v 13.43 19.65 km/s

    According to our estimations, the Chelyabinski meteor started to brighten up when it
    was between 32 and 47 km up in the atmosphere.
    The radiant of the meteoroid was located
    in the constellation of Pegasus (northern hemisphere). At the time of the event the radiant
    was close to the East horizon where the sun was starting to rise (this is confirmed by many
    videos showing the first appearance of the meteor during the twilight, see an example at ).
    The velocity of the body predicted by our analysis was between 13 and 19 km/s (relative
    to the Earth) which encloses the preferred figure of 18 km/s assumed by other researchers.
    The relatively large range of velocities compatible with our uncertainties in the direction of
    the trajectory, represent the largest source of dispersion in the reconstruction of the orbit.

    They are talking 32-to-47 km with an energy budget that can deliver damage only to 0.25 psi damage to 13.887 km!

    We are looking at a whole lot more kinetic energy, spread over a larger atmospheric volume & land area foot print (from 16 to 30 km or so of trajectory cone?), over a several second time period.

    This was an impact event and not a _detonation_.

    The energy release curve for an atmospheric impact event is far different, far longer, and spread over a much larger, differential density, fluid volume and land foot print than for a point source nuclear detonation.

    Bolids have such different energy release curve characteristics that using a nuclear detonation energy release model — with an instant sharp peak and trailing right hand curve — for the Chelyabinsk bolid energy budget is simply poor science.

    The peak energy release for a boloid may be as high as a nuclear detonation, but area under the boloid impact release curve is much, much, bigger!!!

  • George Howard

    Yep, Dennis. I often bring up that you don’t find craters from “jumpers” on the floor of San Fran Bay below the Golden Gate bridge.