In Soviet Russian, Meteors Come From Underground


I know, I'm sorry for the headline, but this is cool and I couldn't help myself. Russian divers have found the largest piece of the meteorite that exploded over Chelyabinsk in February. Yes, divers. The meter long chunk of the originally 17 meter long rock was discovered at the bottom of Lake Chebarkul, 70 km from the blast site. The lake was frozen on impact, and researchers had to wait until it was thawed before they could go searching for it. This 570 kilogram piece represents the largest piece of debris from the impact found to date, and is unlikely to be bested.

The Chelyabinsk explosion was seen by millions around the world thanks to Russian drivers almost uniformally having dash mounted cameras, providing us with one of the best archives of footage of this kind of mid-atmosphere explosion. These sorts of impacts can be more dangerous than actual ground-fall impacts, as the shock wave carries farther, the debris field can be wider and the explosive force can rain fire down from the sky. This is believed to be the same kind of impact as happened in Tunguska in 1908, which flattened 2000 square kilometres. The Chelyabinsk explosion was significantly smaller, but still caused hundreds of injuries and millions of dollars in damage to a moderately populated area. And we didn't see it coming.

I'm only terrified of three things: Alzheimer's, the immediate future, and meteors. We can't do much about the first one, the second is pretty much a lost cause, but with the right funding and equipment, meteors are the only natural disaster that we can prevent. Which is important, because they are the only natural disaster to have repeatedly destroyed all life on the planet. Repeatedly. And we're over due. It's easy to lackadaisically talk about the K-T boundary (which, did you know is now called the K–Pg boundary?) or the Great Dying, but we weren't around for either of those. And the dinosaurs didn't have the ability to detect, intercept and deter these things. And neither do we. But we could, very quickly, if people took the threat seriously, which they never will if such things are culturally associated with Bruce Willis and Aerosmith. Chelyabinsk, and this meter long remnant of that event, should be paraded as a warning that one day the sky will start falling, and we can stop it, but only if we prepare now.

This article took on a real alarmist vibe. Next post will be lesson fear mongery, I promise.

Via the Bad Astronomer.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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