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back to article Colombian boffins reconstruct flight path of Russian meteor

Astroboffins have figured out where the Chelaybinsk meteorite came from using the power of maths and videos shot by witnesses in Russia. Jorge Zuluaga and Ignacio Ferrin of the University of Antioquia in Colombia have come up with a preliminary reconstruction of the orbit of the meteor, which smashed into the city in the Urals …

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Weight

I thought that they revised the weight up a tad...between 7 and 10 /thousand/ tonnes (at 17m diameter, that wouldn't be tricky)

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apparently the next show will be Mars in 2014

when Comet C/2013 A1 may (or may not) smack into Spirit or Curiosity or..

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Re: apparently the next show will be Mars in 2014

Great! Curiosity can take pot shots at it with its laser.

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Coat

Colombian boffins.

By combing through the witness videos and using trigonometry...

From what I saw of the videos you'd have to be some sort of genius at following white lines to do that....

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I thought you meant the vapour trails

then I remembered I came here to do a CMP joke.

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Childcatcher

Re: Colombian boffins.

So have we decided that it is not the latest attempt by the cartels to get past the FDA?

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Mushroom

A modest proposal...

If this had hit a town instead of exploding in the air it would have wiped it out. 500 kilotons is a big bang.

I thought that we had a system for tracking and watching dangerous objects in space. Why didn't that system warn us?

It seems to me that it would be worth taking the cash away from the disproved and discredited Global Warming scam, and spending it on improving our meteorite watching capability.

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Re: A modest proposal...

re: I thought that we had a system for tracking and watching dangerous objects in space. Why didn't that system warn us?

Why not? Probably because their budget isn't big enough. I thought I read that it was $5.4 million, but I'm not 100% sure of that figure. It's certainly only a few million (3--6) spent on the problem. Less than what a typical Hollywood disaster movie costs, anyway.

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Re: A modest proposal...

"Well, our object collison budget's a million dollars. That allows us to track about 3% of the sky, and beg'n your pardon sir, but it's a big-ass sky. "

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Re: A modest proposal...

Assuming this resulted from some internal activity in the Apollo group of asteroids suddenly changing this fragment's course, what's the earliest we could have spotted it and would it have done any good?

Do we have any doomrock spotter experts on the Reg?

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Boffin

Re: A modest proposal...

There's no "group" in the way you're thinking of to have internal activity. The Apollos are just a collective name for asteroids whose paths cross the orbit of the Earth but spend most of their time further from the sun than Earth is. This particular rock may have been orbiting for many millions of years undisturbed and it just so happened that this time round it and the planet were both trying to occupy the same bit of space at the same time.

The other known rock that did a close flyby that day, 2012 DA14, has an orbit that takes a few days longer to go round than the Earth takes in its and makes a close approach every 19 years or so. It was three times the diameter (~45m) so around 9 time the cross sectional area and was only discovered a year ago when it made that orbits closest approach.

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Mushroom

Re: A modest proposal...

Define "dangerous objects".

What they're looking for is things big enough to screw the lot of us over and far enough away that we might be able to do something about it before said overscrewing takes place.

Little rocks like this aren't a big issue survival-of-the-species-wise and by the time they get close enough to be spotted and a reliable track calculated there's bugger all we could do about it anyway.

Nuke, because you mentioned 500 kilotons.

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Re: A modest proposal...

Thanks, Vulch.

So if we had been tracking this individual rock we would have had decent advance warning of the collision.

Is there any limiting factor other than money on our ability to do this sort of tracking?

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Re: A modest proposal...

"Little rocks like this aren't a big issue survival-of-the-species-wise and by the time they get close enough to be spotted and a reliable track calculated there's bugger all we could do about it anyway."

I guess that because they are not planet-killers there might be something we could do - evacuate an area, for example, if we had time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A modest proposal...

But that wouldn't work, because you would only know where the rock would hit by running a model, and you know that no model can be 100% accurate and therefore, logically, no model can tell you anything.

Though actually that's what our species usually does - panics about the rare spectacular risk (asteroid, nuclear waste, plane crash) and ignores the less rare less spectacular (global warming, diesel fumes, smoking).

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Coat

Re: A modest proposal...

> Why didn't that system warn us?

Because the level of detection at which you spot a quite likely black-painted sandgrain from 500km away against a black background has just not been reached yet.

Now get off your ass and increase GDP so that we can have that.

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Boffin

Re: A modest proposal...

As ever, the limits are money and time. It needs big telescopes, you're trying to spot black double decker buses several million miles away, looking in all directions all of the time. Ideally you want them spread around Earths orbit round the sun as well as on the planet itself, and also in Venus' solar orbit so they can look out towards us. Then you need enough computer power to analyse the stream of images from the telescopes and look for anything moving, and correlate between telescopes when they do spot something to determine its exact position and orbit.

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Re: A modest proposal...

"and you know that no model can be 100% accurate and therefore, logically, no model can tell you anything."

The phrase "Doctrine of impotence" springs to mind.

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Facepalm

Re: A modest proposal...

Why didn't the system warn us?

Because their budget is limited, as others have pointed out, and the reason their budget is limited is because of all the whingers and moaners going on about first-world problems and why we aren't spending our money feeding starving African children instead of blowing it on useless and expensive space probes...

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Re: A modest proposal...

"you're trying to spot black double decker buses several million miles away"

I'm not even sure we have the technology to accurately track bright red double decker buses in a capital city!

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Joke

Re: would it have done any good?

As far as I can tell, no. Both Bruce and Morgan are working on other projects at the moment and would not have been available to save the earth.

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Re: evacuate an area, for example, if we had time.

The smaller the object, the more difficult to detect and track. Then you have to get the orbital path. All theoretically workable, IF you are looking at the right place at the right time with the right equipment. You've got a better chance of winning that big Irish Lottery.

For all practical intents with current technology and money resources we can't do much about either of them. The small ones we'll spot to late to be able to evacuate. (And let's face it, we have enough trouble evacuating large cities when we have a week's notice that a hurricane is about to hit land when we've got pretty satellite pictures of it. Can you imagine trying to get people to evacuate a city based on the little white dot a meteor would be?) The large ones we couldn't deflect anyway. (And they'd be little white dots too.)

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Re: why we aren't spending our money feeding

Even if we weren't spending that money (which I would prefer), the budget to build such a system would pretty much bankrupt even the amalgamated nations who have the tech to build it.

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Anonymous Coward

500 kilotons

is 25 times bigger than Hiroshima, they were fortunate that an air burst dissipates in 360 degrees and that it 'burst' 10 miles away from them. still you can understand the damage! and the 2.8 quake the shockwave caused.

(It's still many hundreds of times smaller than the Tsar Bomba Nuke though)

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Mushroom

Re: 500 kilotons

500 kilotons is the total energy dissipated during a re-entry taking many seconds, rather than all released in a fraction of a second in a nuclear weapon. Therefore the damage was a lot less than an equivalent tonnage of bomb.

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Bah!

If it has maths in it, I'm against it.

Besides, everyone knows this meteor was a sign of God's anger against the Russians. Verily He hath smoted them.

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Re: Bah!

"Verily He hath smoted them."

Somehow I can easily imagine someone believes that, in spite of the fact that he missed and none of them died.

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Re: Bah!

RE: Somehow I can easily imagine someone believes that, in spite of the fact that he missed and none of them died.

Yes, more of a "Small Meteor Hits Russia: Not Many^H^H Nobody Dead".

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Re: Bah!

Perhaps it was just a gentle reminder smite: "Hey, you guys, I'm still around, and you'd better behave."

A bit like letting the cat know that you're looking before she jumps on the bench.

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Angel

Hi.

We see you, and you're still a psychopathic fuck.

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Headmaster

Re: Bah!

Verily He hath smitten them. Verily He smote them. Pick one.

This is a similar grammatical construct to "I have written this" or "I wrote this."

Not "I have wroted this".

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FAIL

Hot off the news wire

Or did I read this yesterday on the BBC? Yep.

Here's a tech story from the Beeb you can re-do the paragraphs on tomorrow:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21603323

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Alien

Are sure it wasn't launched from Klendathu?

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Joke

Columbians discover

new way to deliver coke to suppliers?

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How fast?

54,000kmph?

Is that kilometres per hour (km/h), or thousand miles per hour (Kmph)? Please let it be 54 meeellion miles per hour.

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good thing..

..if it was traveling at the same direction as earth.

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Earth: 1, Asteroid: 0

Earth rocks!

(See what I did there?)

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Must be wrong

That path goes nowhere near Edwards AFB - crazy Russian politician.

But they said "Apollo" and Project Apollo didn't go anywhere near the moon - crazy American.

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Mushroom

Testing, Testing ..

That was only a ranging shot. One long, one short and then Footfall will hit its intended target

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