NASA Tracks Chelyabinsk Meteorite Dust in the Atmosphere

Our planet is no stranger to meteorites. Take a look in the Moon and see what has been erased from the surface of the Earth by tectonic movements. Evolution of life took many sharp turns because of catastrophic impacts. On February 15, 2013 a meteor weighing 10,000 metric tons exploded only 23km above the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia. The so called airburst event created a very strong ultrasound that was picked up by listening stations established to monitor nuclear test activities around the world. I was also recorded by hundreds of dash cameras locally. Unlike previous such events, this time scientists had the highly sensitive Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite (OMPS) instrument on NPP to deliver unprecedented data and help them track and study the meteor plume for months. This video shows how accurately the model prediction coincided with the satellite observations.

The accuracy of the models in projecting the plume’s trajectory is critical since the same models are used to study climate change, aerosol movement and ozone depletion.

Black Carbon Movement in the Atmosphere NASA from Nature Documentaries on Vimeo.

The unprecedented sensitivity of the OMPS instrument and its ability to see a vertical profile of the atmosphere, helped scientists track and study the meteor plume for months, revealing a much better picture of what the aftermath on the atmosphere could be from potential future and even bigger events.

When satellite based global measurements are coupled with intermediate scale measurements complex calculations such as sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere by forests become very accurate.

You can also watch how scientists reconstructed the meteorite fireball from hundreds of cameras that have captured the event:

 

6 Comments

  1. RODNEY CHILTON says:

    HAS ANYONE CALCULATED HOW MUCH OZONE MAY HAVE BEEN DEPLETED IN THE EARTH’S ATMOSPHERE?

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