Saturday, February 16, 2013

More on the Chelyabinsk Asteroid Bolide Event and an Imaginary Gay Poseidon Adventure

**Updated 1:42AM 11/20/2014: See below.**

A dashcam video frame grab of the fireball / bolide traveling at hypersonic speed over the Chelyabinsk region in Russia just as it was detonating, 9:26AM local time February 15, 2013.


Another dashcam video frame grab in a car on the highway between Kostanai, Kazakhstan, and the Chelyabinsk region in Russia showing the fireball / bolide as it rocketed through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds, February 15, 2013.


This entry is a recap of yesterday's Siberian meteor (asteroid) fireball / bolide and resulting air burst / shockwave that shattered so many windows in and around Chelyabinsk and injuring well over 1,000 people. While no fatalities were reported, it is unprecedented in modern times -- and is likely the biggest such asteroidal "impactor" event since the great Tunguska event of June 1908 (also in Siberia).

Yet another dashcam video frame grab showing the Chelyabinsk bolide. (Why there are so many dashcams in Russia is discussed below.)


So here is what NASA tells us along with other noted sources:

At 03:19:54 UTC 15 February 2013, a previously unknown asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere at a shallow angle over the southern Ural Mountains in western Siberia of the Russian Federation. The asteroid was likely of a rocky composition as opposed to iron-nickel or (remnant comet nuclei) frozen gaseous volatiles and it is now estimated to have been about 55 feet (17 meters) in diameter and a mass revised upward to 10,000 tons (!).

The condensation trail (contrail) of the bolide over Chelyabinsk shortly after it blew up and the remnants crashed / Feb. 15, 2013.

Traveling at a hypersonic speed of approximately 40,000 miles per hour (11 miles per second) on what appears to have been a north to south trajectory*,the object created a incandescent fireball (bolide) along its path as bright as the Sun. The object detonated 32.5 seconds later at exactly 03:20:26 UTC 15 February 2013 (9:20:26AM local (Yekaterinburg) time / 10:20:26PM EST Feb. 14, 2013) at an altitude variously estimated between 15 and 30 miles.**

Whimsical headline that appeared for hours yesterday in the online Huffington Post yesterday (Feb. 15, 2013) for an event that is not at all funny.


The detonation released an estimated 500 kilotons of energy (that's half a Megaton of TNT equivalent), making it 30 times greater than the estimated 16-kiloton yield of the atomic bomb "Little Boy" dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. However, that explosion occurred just 2,000 feet above Hiroshima. It is thought to be the biggest such fireball explosion since the legendary Tunguska event -- also in Siberia but 1,200 miles away (Siberia is flippin' huge) on June 30, 1908 (O.S. June 17, 1908).

A map showing the location of the 1908 Tunguska and 2013 Chelyabinsk events and the approximate 1,200 miles separating them.


The 1908 Tunguska asteroid airburst flattened hundreds of square miles of exceedingly remote taiga (injuring a handful of people) and releasing any where from 5 to 30 Megatons of energy.
Tunguska then -- actually in 1927 or 19 years after the event -- in the famous Kulik expedition. The forest still remained flattened.

As an aside, I recall as a small child reading an article with the blaring headline: "DID A BLACK HOLE HIT SIBERIA?" complete with a suitable drawing of a bit of land being sucked into a vortex. No, it was certainly not a mini-black hole. Rather, it was likely an  asteroid a few hundred feet across that may have actually been the remnant of a comet nucleus with lots of volatiles that mostly vaporized in the explosion. Of course, that is a contested hypothesis -- some insisting it was a stony asteroid.

Tunguska now -- or actually an aerial view n 2008. This is an incredibly remote region of central Siberia. This is probably one of the most remote land locations on the planet.


The Feb. 15, 2013 asteroid bolide explosion occurred over Chelyabinsk, a city of approximately 1.1 million people in the Ural Mountains of western Siberia.

The air burst / shock wave shattered windows throughout the city (millions of square feet of glass broke) and also collapsed the roof on a zinc factory. (The broken windows are leaving many people potentially exposed to the Siberian winter.)

According to The New York Times, the Russian Ministry of Health reports a total of 1,158 people, including 298 children, sought medical care. Of those, 52 were hospitalized. As of today, 12 adults and 3 children remain in hospitals.

At least one remnant piece of the object that reached the ground -- thus making it an actual meteorite -- crashed through the ice atop Lake Chebarkul west of Chelyabinsk. (There is an alternate spelling of "Chebakul" that I've also seen in news accounts.)

A 20-foot diameter circular hole in the ice on Lake Chebarkul that was probably caused by a fragment of the impacting meteorite, Feb. 15, 2013.

Any piece of that meteorite would be worth a lot of money.


Another view of the 20-foot diameter circular hole in the ice on Lake Chebarkul likeley caused by a fragment of the impacting meteorite, Feb. 15, 2013.

Oooh, that water looks cold.


There really is no precedent for this kind of event in modern times -- both in terms of scale of damage and large numbers of injuries.  Until now, this has been the realm of (many) disaster movies.

A map showing locations where meteorite fragments from the asteroid are believed to have struck the ground. This is close to the border of Kazakhstan.

NOTES (from above):

*The north-to-south direction of travel is opposite that of asteroid 2012 DA14 that apparently WHOLLY and PURELY COINCIDENTALLY gave Earth a 17,200 mile close shave yesterday, and so NASA rules out the possibility that the two were connected.

**Sources here and here.

Broken windows in an apartment building in Chelyabinsk as a result of the shock wave from the asteroid fireball, Feb. 15, 2013.


FYI, Chelyabinsk has the notorious distinction of being considered one of the most polluted cities on Earth owing to the manufacture of weapons-grade plutonium, nuclear fuel reprocessing, and other military and industrial activities that have occurred there over the decades.

Damaged windows and window frames in an old apartment building as a result of the air burst from the asteroid fireball over Chelyabinsk, Feb. 15, 2013.


Some of the videos are amazing -- of the bolide itself, the surreal looking condensation trail, and (on surveillance videos) the shock wave blasting windows in buildings. Here is a compendium of over a dozen videos.

A closeup of the bolide contrail over Chelyabinsk, Feb. 15, 2013. It's hard to estimate how high this cloud is since it is clearly water vapor but is likely at least 15 miles overhead.


On a negative note, apparently the reason there are so many such dashboard cameras (dashcams) -- as the above article and this one both note -- is because of dangerous driving conditions in Russia both physically and socially, the latter including "lawless areas," corrupt police who will extort money, and numerous bogus pedestrian strikes that are really scams. All in a country overseen by a deeply authoritarian government with billionaire oligarchs running much of the economy and controlling the country's vast natural resources.

An injured and bandaged man at a hospital in Chelyabinsk, Feb. 15, 2013. He was probably hurt by shattered /flying glass as a result of the asteroid fireball shock wave as were so many other residents of the city.


In other words, it's a American libertarian paradise where the sh!tty D.C. rightwing think tank intellectuals can blather gibberish about "not controlling outcomes." Maybe it's time for The WaHoPo Editorial Board to issue a strongly worded editorial about the need for "more trade liberalization" and "market-driven entitlement reform" -- i.e., destruction of the American working class / manufacturing economy and giving all your Social Security to Wall Street crooks.

D.C. think tank corporate gigolos are us ...

"Sounds good to us. We like to party like it's still 1999."

Also, apparently the rabidly anti-science GOP Flat Earther Know Nothings on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology want to hold a "hearing" about the 2013 Russian meteor event.

This committee of Neo-Confederate Teabaggers and corporate whores is includes Rep. Paul "I was the first to proudly call Obama a Muslim Kenyan Socialist Marxist Leninist Nazi"Broun (R - Insane), who is Chairman of its Subcomittee on Oversight and who famously declared that the theories of evolution and the Big Bang are "lies straight from the pit of Hell."

Is there the SLIGHTEST doubt that Georgia voters will promptly elect Broun to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R - Max Cleland Triple Amputee)


Here are a couple more political cartoons that I retrieved from Bartcop.


Ha ha


Voyage of the Damned and One Wish ...

I had one other I wanted to note: While I understand it was nightmarish for all those American passengers (not to mention the beleaguered and exploited crew on such ocean-saling corporate-run behemoths) aboard that gargantuan Carnival Cruise factory cruise ship "Triumph" (pictured above being towed slowly to port) to the Caribbean when an engine fire knocked out power and disabled the ship -- quickly creating Calcutta-like sanitation conditions as the massive ship limped eventually into port at Mobile on Tuesday, I was disappointed that it wasn't the GAY CRUISE of the previous week.

**Updated 1:42AM 11/20/2014: Content removed.**

These gay cruises are basically a fundamentalist Christian's fevered imagination of what gay men are like come to life.

But a failure situation like that on a gay cruise would turn it quickly everything from a sex/club/gym and drinking fest to a homosexual version of Lord of the Flies with a lot of shrieking, crying, and drama, the texts and tweets coming by the thousands every minute.

CNN and mediawhores everywhere would love to cover a story like that, and I personally would find that VERY entertaining.

Oh, and if it involved a Coast Guard rescue, you can be sure the homo gays would start hitting on the sailors even as they were being rescued by a rescue swimming squad and wenched winched up to a helicopter.


The weather today has been overcast and mid-February seasonably cold (it reached 41F at KDCA but most of the day was in the 30s) with a few snow flurries (and nothing more). Looking ahead, there really isn't any winter weather of note -- i.e., no major snowfalls for the immediate D.C. area -- and as we are rapidly "running out of winter time" for this to happen, it is unlikely any will happen.

In that spirit, I would like to post this vintage "fantasy panel" of the 12Z GFS today at hour 384 (valid 12Z March 4, 2013 -- see above). This is as far out as the operational weather model runs (and it is pretty much useless). Indeed, the 18Z run had already removed the feature.

Tonight I am going to meet Andrea and Nick (and maybe Jake) at Old Ebbitt Grill for dinner.  I have to say that this group is so much nicer than the group I had back in the 1990s centered around awful little Wall-P, today a corporate legal stooge in a D.C. Machine. The rest of the group are all married, the men mostly turned into frogs on suburban lily pads by wives who suck the life out of everything while fretting about "the children, the children" in their suburban bourgeois purgatories.

OK, that's all for now. I will try to post my New Jersey trip-themed entry on Monday.


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