HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Meteor explodes over Chelyabinsk, 1500 injured, Asteroid size of White House buzzing Earth 5pm EST closer than geosatellites

Incredible 4-17M wide meteor streaked over major Russian city of Chelyabinsk (1.1 mil), exploding into brilliant fireball at 9-33 miles altitude, causing a shock wave to smash the city 2:20 min later, blowing in windows across the metropolis, collapsing  the middle of a zinc factory, putting 100 in the hospital, 3 critical. You have to go back to Chinese antiquity to find any such widespread damage from a meteor  (my art. below), though the Slooh scientists say this is the MOST damaging meteor in history, almost entirely from flying glass.  There's a 6M hole in a lake from a piece that hit 50 miles to the west in Chebarkul, where they've found fragments: common stony chondrite w 10% metals. An air shock wave means, I think, that it had to go off in the atmosphere (first report-17mi, or 95,000ft, is almost a vacuum). From the 2:20 min time delay in the impact, it was 28 miles away (@ 1 mile/5 sec) and @ 10-12 miles/sec- if that was 45 degree angle as many videos show.......  it would have been 20 miles altitude. Some videos have it directly overhead. ESA says final detonation was at 9-12 miles.

 Guess there's enough air up there- when they blew off nukes above 50 miles, there was no impact on earth but a new sun for a minute.  A meteor will cause a huge sonic boom, but this one obviously partially explodes. Actually on careful reflection- this was supposedly equal to a 300-500 kt nuclear explosion and the ONLY thing that saved Chelyabinsk was the altitude. Had it gone off at 1 km, 700K people would have died (even if only 30kt)!!  Absolutely amazing- in the tractless wastes of Siberia (2x size of US) with only 4-5 big cities, this thing blows right over one of them. These were 1 in a billion events

Multiple follow-up blasts are heard from other meteor pieces, or maybe the Zinc Plant blowing up from chemicals or explosives detonated by the impacts (like at Fukushima).  This is the largest meteor blast since the famous 10-15 megaton 1908 Tunguska air blast, which flattened thousands of sq. km of trees in a 52km radius in an area so remote (and Russia was entering the hell of war, revolution, civil war, famine, genocide) it was 19 years before it was investigated (never found any fragments, but it was supposedly heard in London! Est 50-90M). This meteor is NOT RELATED in any way to the next event: they came from completely different directions- just a dazzling amazing coincidence. Enormous disparity exists in the size of this thing: the Russians say 10 ft and 10 tons, NASA says 55 ft and 10,000 tons. JPL claims to have recorded it by infrasound from Alaska, though that would mean it was partly captured by Earth's gravity.   Space.com

INCREDIBLY, a WHITE HOUSE sized or Olympic swimming pool sized (50M) asteroid is zipping by Earth as I write 10pm UTC Friday night, within 17,000 miles, closer than all TV and communication geosynchronous satellites (22k mi.), under 3 Earth diameters or 14 min away (at Earth, at a cool 5 miles/second. This would vaporize any city it hit, a 20 mile radius, like a 50 meg nuke- apart from the radiation the spectacular heat and shock would be similar to a nuke. You can follow this live on a viewer operated Canary Island telescope with commentary          http://events.slooh.com 

50M is also estimated to be size of the rock that blasted the impressive 1.2 km Meteor Crater (bottom) 50,000 years ago, something that perhaps happens every 1000 years. Many years ago, I scaled the 8 ft chain link fence and descended to the bottom of the steep dark loose frightening 600 ft deep crater at 1-4am on a cross-country LA-Balt.-RI jaunt, while my Chilean passenger slept all through it.   

And I spent 3 months in the Yucatan in '89 just before they discovered the long-sought 110 mile wide crater of the 6 mile diameter dinosaur-killing Chicxulub Meteor 65 mil. years ago... just off the North coast. Ukraine was evidently also struck by a piece of the Chicxulub impactor or ballistic ejecta, the Boltysh Crater, with a 15 mile blast crater 65 million years old near Kirovograd!!! A near planet-killer would have to be only 1 km in diameter, of which there are some 2000 NEO's (Near Earth Objects), some like the Atens, inside the orbit of Earth so invisible cause they would come out of Sun and others coming in fast and dark from the distant Ort comet cloud... maybe 1 impact like this every million years, more deadly if it hits water and creates a 1km high tsunami. Over 3 miles size, we would have a lights-out Extinction Event. They figure 1 of these every 100 million years or so: the worst extinction event, the Permian, which killed 86% of everything 252 million years ago, can't be definitively linked to a meteor. In '94 I was thrilled to see the chunks of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smash into the mysterious liquid/gas surface of Jupiter at 40 mps from the 1890's Brown 14" refractor, leaving 5 multiple Earth-sized black "holes" for weeks. There was enormous scientific resistance to devastating Earth impactors (because of the apocalyptic religious uses)- Gene Shoemaker made it acceptable only in the 60's.                                      Yellow are raised walls, white are cenotes (lake sinkholes), shaded is land.-- Chicxulub Crater, N. Yucatan, Mexico

Then there was yet another near meteor a couple of hours later that SLOOH showed- amazing space display. Late Friday, another fireball was spotted over the San Francisco Bay, also unrelated, at about 7:45 p.m. PST (03:45 Feb. 16 GMT) and lit up the nighttime sky. 
             Look to the skies, my friends.

IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT - Science + history behind meteor, asteroid, + cometary impacts (rel. to Armageddon + Deep Impact) 1998 Hawaii
STORMING LIONS -- Nov 18th, 2001+ Nov '98 Leonid Meteor Showers viewings w End of World article - largest meteor showers, 1998 was thought to be a major one- at its height I saw a meteor every 2 seconds; in 1966 it had 40/second from one area and the few spectators on a NM mtn. (all US was cloudy) said it was like moving in a space ship !!
Meteor Trail Over Russia: Feb. 15, 2013

 Close Shave: How Asteroid 2012 DA14 Will Whiz Past the Earth but Not Hit Us (Infographic)
A space rock the size of an Olympic swimming pool passes harmlessly within 28,000km of Earth - just a tenth the distance to the Moon.

Huge Russian Meteor Blast is Biggest Since 1908 (Infographic)