Energy Considerations From the Russian Meteorite
By GHS Physics/Astro Classes on February 16, 2013, 10:37am Last modified: February 18, 2013, 4:09pm
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Everyone is chatting about the meteorite that entered the atmosphere 1500 Km east of Moscow over a sleepy little community of Chelyabinsk. Unfortunately, since this is such a huge story, the information disseminated to the masses is getting either diluted or exaggerated. Wading through all the science-based reports and the mass media reports requires not only a few precious hours of your time, but requires a skeptical view when it comes to the numbers quoted.
We have seen and heard quotes of the “mass” of the Chelyabinsk Meteorite range from 5 tons to 7,000 tons! A 5 ton meteorite is one thing; a “swoosh” and gone. A 7,000 ton meteorite is yet an entirely different animal; much larger than that and we would need to call Bruce Willis to save us from imminent doom.
Following are slides with the best available science-based data on the Chelyabinsk Meteorite followed by a mathematical and graphical approximation of the kind of damage this type of meteorite could cause if all the energy were released at one time.