Orbit of the Russian Meteor

The bright blue line in the diagram above shows the orbit of the Russian meteor prior to the meteor breaking apart over the city of Chelyabinsk. The meteor hit the atmosphere at a speed of 18 km/s (11.2 miles per second or 40,300 mph). It was moving at a shallow entry angle (less than 20 degrees) and broke apart some 15-25 km above the Russian city. Most of the damage was caused by the shock wave produced when the meteor disrupted.

Several thousand meteors enter Earth’s atmosphere each day. The vast majority of these, however, occur over the oceans and uninhabited regions, and a good many are masked by daylight. Those that occur at night also are rarely noticed by people. Due to the combination of all of these factors, only a handful of witnessed meteorite falls occur each year. The Russia meteor was one of those rare instances.

34 thoughts on “Orbit of the Russian Meteor”

  1. Watched yellow colored, what i believe was astroid go from due north straight south. If i remember correctly it was August 2012. watched it from oklahoma near Ponca City. It was very high, bright enough to see with naked eye, it lasted about 12-14 seconds. moving way faster than any satellite moves and slower than meterorite. Not sure what it was though. never heard a thing about it. was pretty neat to see it.

  2. There have been documented reports of 3 daytime very bright fireballs over Russia, the Bay Area, and Birmingham Alabama today, these are unrelated to the near miss of the asteroid? It seems very strange that all four of these very rare events occurred today.

  3. The post lists location, ambient light, and odd hours as reasons why “only a handful of witnessed meteorite falls occur each year.” But the post fails to mention that of the “several thousand meteors [that] enter Earth’s atmosphere each day,” the nearly all are much, much smaller than the large one that just hit us. They burn up in the atmosphere, some seen as a meteor shower or “falling star”, many missed, the vast majority are far to slight to be detected with anything but a fortunately aimed sensor. Clearly size, far more than the listed factors above accounts for the extremely rare handful of instances of witnessed “falls”… out of the hundreds of thousands of rocks that reach our atmosphere each year.

  4. In december 2012 (15.-21.) In DK near Copenhagen, Farum I observed 2 meteors:
    1. Observation media size early Night north to South vertical app. 15 Sec.
    2. Observation big one late Night South to north vertical app. 30 Sec.

    In January 2013 I observed:
    1 incident big one app. mid Jan. East to Vest horisontal early morning (still dark) app. 30-40 Sec.

    Those are my latest observations in DK, but I often see meteors due to tha fact that I do’nt need much sleep I rather enjoy to watch the Universe. For the record I only use my eyes and my great knowledge to Gaia and her surroundings in the Universe.

    Keep up the good spirit love from Ibi in Denmark

  5. We should be grateful Asteroid 2012 D14 survived not collide with our beloved Earth. NASA says Russia is the biggest fireball reported since 1908, when the meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia. The possibility of the next meteor could fall as well. We have all the unfortunate may feel frightened. “I was very scared” said Tamara Khabarova, a lady retired from the Russian central Voronzeh. “But what can we do? It is at left in the hands of Allah SWT. “. Just pray that we are always protected by Allah SWT, Amin.

  6. The Russian meteor is described as a once in a hundred years event.
    The DA14 close approach is a once in fifty years event.
    What are the odds of them both happening on the same day if they are really unrelated?
    Come on NASA.
    More number crunching required.

  7. Hello NASA Folks,

    This event is begging a so far, unasked question. Its understood with all the space to cover and places for asteroids to hide the NEAR Project has their hands full. Even backyard astronomers play a big role in locating asteroids that carry potential to impact this planet. So why is it NASA did not appear to learn of this impact until it was posted on UTube? Or, does the story read more like they did know and did not share the information out of a fear some large scale panic might occur?

    In either case NASA and the NEAR Project let us down in a major way. They cannot intentionally remain silent when there mission is to warn us. They seam to know of every rock out there that does not have foreseeable impact with he Earth. Why did the miss this rock? Understood, it is pretty small but there are plenty as small and smaller that are being tracked and discovered on a monthly basis.

    Is there an unsung hero of backyard astronomy who tried to say something but was shut down by the “powers” of this day?

    Does NASA and NEAR owe the world a detailed, truthful explanation explaining how this one was missed or why they misled the world (and an apology)? I, for one, am very tired of being played as a fool by governments and agents. Its about time these agencies own up and start treating the world with some respect due more to an adult than a child in the latter case.

    Any clarification you can provide or obtain is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you and good day.


  8. Why didn’t NASA or any space agency took the idea of attaching a monitor to the D12 asteroid that flew near above Earth? It would have been great to space exploration to have a monitor attached to Asteroid D12 as it roam around the universe.

  9. Why didn’t NASA or any space agency took the idea of attaching a monitor to the D12 asteroid that flew near above Earth? It would have been great to space exploration to have a monitor attached to Asteroid D12 as it roam around the universe.

  10. Why do not tell the people that the “meteor” was the Phoebe Grunt russian 11 tons satellite lost one month ago? Did You notice that the ruote of the meteor was the same of the satellite?

  11. We have as we think good approximation on meteorite trajectory. If somebody from NASA is interested in that information, we can share it.
    Please write me on my email. I am from Chelyabinsk from South Ural State university (which suffered a lot).

  12. How much was the object’s orbit tilted relative to the plane of the earth’s orbit? The underlying question is, given the fact that the orbits of inner solar system objects are all very roughly coplanar, how is it possible that the object appeared to move from north to south?

  13. Is it possible the Russian meteoroid did not actually impact the surface?
    Given the angle of approach and the aiburst could the main portion have left without ground impact?
    The videos seem to show a fairly significant object continuing onwards after the main explosion

  14. How much of the 18 km/s speed was due to the object’s orbit around the Sun and how much was due to the Earth’s gravitation. In other words, what would the speed have been when crossing Earth’s orbit if the Earth had not been there?

  15. How was the 18 km/s velocity derived? From the infrasound data, video analysis, or some other method? (or is it an assumption?) How much deceleration happens in the atmosphere?

    On comment 8, the DA14 pass is more like a one every few years event at current detection rates. So the a posteriori probability that DA14 happens within a day of the rarer event is a few tenths of a percent – unlikely but not ridiculous.

  16. Good morning,

    I aint no scientist but i just would like to ask if it’s possible that even the meteor in russia burned mostly in our atmosfeer. Would it be possible for some bacteria to survive? or any other living organisme? ppl always talk about a big meteor and the explosion killing most dinosuars , but what if it was a realy small organisme on the meteor that got blasted through the air? i hope my english is good enough to understand.

    Best wishes from the netherlands 🙂

  17. There is one possibility that I have not seen mentioned. Some asteroids have been spotted with smaller ones orbiting them. Those “astromoons” can orbit the larger one at any distance, obliquity, or inclination. If the Chelyabinsk meteor was orbiting 2012 D14, it could have hit Earth from any direction. (That would explain the strange “coincidence” of the two phenomena.) The point to check is whether the distance between the Chelyabinsk body and 2012 D14, and the velocity of the former in relation to the later, is on the ballpark to match up with a Keplerian orbit. Could you or NASA crunch those numbers?

  18. if the earth gravity force modifice the orbit the asteroid, 2012-DA14 is mean possible risk about earth in future?

  19. Mother Nature must have had a good laugh, getting us all to “watch the birdie”(2012DA14)and then ramming this one up our kazoo. The fact we’re even here on this planet shows this is a relatively quiet part of the galaxy, though the dinosaurs paid the ultimate price, seemingly. Like a bad earthquake/tsunami, we’re being told something here.
    NORAD claims to be able to track a basketball ; but of course their incapabilities, as well as capabilities, are secret. Russia seemed to have some numbers on it pretty quickly, do they have tactical radars running 24/7, out of paranoia over their airspace ? The info coming out of this event, like with the Chris Dorner manhunt, seems to be the
    usual plausible pablum given to the great unwashed masses to calm them down and give them something to gossip about.
    I guess we’ll have to wait for the NOVA special to get answers

  20. Hello NASA. Once you’re claimed yet that meteor moved in N-S direction, but it moved E-W, from Sun, in the dawn. How can I be sure that your calculations correct now? Bye

  21. This is really silly. We know that the meteorite var travelling from east to west, and it was clear from videos the same morning. NASA is wrong, but they still pretend the trajectory was north to south. And there is no possibility they could calculate the orbit above with any accuracy.

  22. excellent minds brought to bear in this comment section. thank you all. if i may add:

    –we may or may not have been let down by NASA (and perhaps we are together with them in having been let down by a skewed sense of priorities, earmarking monies for imaginary threats when very real ones exist).

    –i too think it odd so many events so close in time — sf, russia, cuba, and also florida (“‘Sporadic’ meteor fireball lights up Florida night sky”) — are in fact as you say completely unrelated. how can you say that in good faith?

    –to this end i wanted to construct an overlay of the trajectories of all the events. perhaps NASA will do this. however, i would like to do this independently, as it helps me to understand my universe to do so. to this end i would like to be in touch with #11, Artyom: if they do not put us in touch please email me, as you will easily find me if you search for ‘a female faust.’

  23. I am confident that NASA will be able to map the orbit of the asteroid that ultimately destroys the earth..after the fact, Uffda! 🙂

  24. Dear Mr. Cooke:

    I thank you for this information.

    However, I still do not think it is sufficient.

    There are many people, including me, who think the DA14 Asteroid and this meteorite were related in some way.

    In order to lay to rest all speculation about the association between these two celestial objects, I think it is appropriate and necessary to display the complete, detailed, accurate, well-drawn and fully illustrated, trajectories of both for the last twelve months.

    That means that someone who is extremely well-schooled in this, should prepare a complete report with well-drawn, accurate, complete trajectories.

    The trajectories should be juxtaposed or otherwise illustrated together, to exactly the same scale, in proper perspective, from several angles, to fully explain the true relative positions of the two objects in flight.

    I respectfully urge that the proper NASA group complete this task soon, and publish the results in full, on the internet, for everyone to see.

    Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone,
    Hays, Kansas.

  25. “On Feb 17, 2013 05:18:41 AM PKthinks added a comment on your blog post.
    Is it possible the Russian meteoroid did not actually impact the surface?
    Given the angle of approach and the aiburst could the main portion have left without ground impact?
    The videos seem to show a fairly significant object continuing onwards after the main explosion”
    I saw it too. I have been looking for any acknowledgment of what I saw. A large chunk of this meteor ‘skipped’ off the atmosphere and now has a new orbit. If it slowed enough it is now in earth orbit, a very elongated earth orbit with a perigee at most in the atmosphere

  26. There is no assurance in NASA’s conclusions loyality.

    How about NASA’s power explosion estimation in over 300 KT? With no blinded people, that certanlly must be with such power.

    How about pretending, that trajectory was north to south? When there are a lot of photo evidences, that meteorite travelled from east to west.

    So, what are you talking about orbit? Is it truth or another bla-bla-bla?

    Shame on you, NASA.

  27. I am sure that NASA and astronomers know exactly what they are doing when calculating and reporting such events. Yet when we are told that these two phenenomenon are unrelated and are simply a “cosmic coincidence” I must admit to being sceptical. Were these two objects traveling together in unison. Tied by gravity. A force I must comment that is still not explainded by university accedemics. I have some ideas about this if anyone is interested. You won´t like them.

  28. Question: What was the trajectory of the Russian meteor (Feb. 2013) over the Earth prior to entering the Earth’s atmosphere over the city of Chelyabinsk? In other words, from what direction over the Earth’s surface was the meteor travelling when it entered the atmosphere? I have relatives in Sweden who believe it traveled over southern Sweden prior to entering the atmosphere over southern Russia, but I have not been able to find any documentation for that belief. If true, then the meteor would have been travelling in a south-easterly direction relative to Earth’s surface coordinates. The meteor does appear to have entered the atmosphere at a very shallow trajectory. And based on the map associated with this blog, appears to have been in orbit arount the sun in the planetary plane(??). Answers anyone?


    What is the ‘general probability’ that any given meteorite is/is-not associated with a stream–or with a cluster if not yet streaming…?

    And should/not astronomers turn their telescope attention to finding out whether this-one is, associated, with some stream or cluster…?

    What percentage of known NEO/PHO’s (themselves a small percentage of what exists) have been analysed for associative streams or clusters?

    P.S. A second reason for even asking this, is that NASA upgraded its estimate of mass, based on infrasound–but which should include tons more dust, sand, gravel…unseen…that nobody particularly noticed.


  30. I was wondering if anyone was monitoring the Meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk on February 15. BEFORE it even entered the atmosphere. Was there anyone watching this one & tracked it to part of it landed. Did anyone know it could of landed in populated area?


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