Credit: Copyright - Don Davis - Used with Permission

Credit: Copyright – Don Davis – Used with Permission

It has been two years since a sky blast rocked the Chelyabinsk region in Russia on February 15, 2013. The event injured scores of people and damaged property as the over 65-feet (20-meter) across space rock fragmented in the atmosphere.

However, the whereabouts of its parent asteroid remains elusive according to a new paper published in the journal Icarus.

Astronomers had originally predicted that a 2-km near-Earth asteroid (NEA) designated (86039) 1999 NC43 could be the source body from which the Chelyabinsk meteoroid was ejected prior to its encounter with the Earth.

“These two bodies shared similar orbits around the sun and initial studies suggested even similar compositions,” said Planetary Science Institute Research Scientist Vishnu Reddy, lead author of “Link between the Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (86039) 1999 NC43 and the Chelyabinsk meteoroid tenuous” that appears in Icarus.

Unlikely link

However, reanalysis of the orbital parameters and spectral data by an international team of researchers led by Reddy has shown that the link between Chelyabinsk and 1999 NC43 is unlikely.

“The composition of Chelyabinsk meteorite that was recovered after the event is similar to a common type of meteorite called LL chondrites. However, the near-Earth asteroid has a composition that is distinctly different from this,” Reddy said.

The study also showed that linking specific meteorites to an asteroid is extremely difficult due to the chaotic nature of the orbits of these bodies.

To view this research paper, go to:

Deep space mission

“The week of February 15th is a good time to remember the fact that asteroids do hit our planet,” says Ed Lu, a three-time U.S. shuttle astronaut, now co-founder and CEO of the B612 Foundation.

Ed Lu, a three-time U.S. shuttle astronaut, now co-founder and CEO of the B612 Foundation. Credit: B612 Foundation

Ed Lu, a three-time U.S. shuttle astronaut, now co-founder and CEO of the B612 Foundation.
Credit: B612 Foundation

The B612 Foundation is building the Sentinel Space Telescope which will provide advance warning of where asteroids are and where they are headed, and it will see them far enough in advance so that we have time to move them out of Earth’s path.

“The B612 Foundation is leading the first privately managed deep space mission with the goal to protect our world from the impact of devastating asteroids. The fact of the matter is that asteroid impacts can be prevented using technology we can employ right now. And unlike other potentially global scale catastrophic events, the solution is nearly purely a technical one, and with a relatively small and known cost,” Lu notes in a B612 Foundation statement.

Protect, deflect

So what do we need to do to protect the Earth from asteroid impacts?

“The surprising answer is that we must find the asteroids that will hit the Earth,” Lu responds.

“In fact, sometime in the next decade, the Sentinel Mission is likely to discover an asteroid on course to hit Earth. And while that asteroid will probably be only about the size of the asteroid that hit Chelyabinsk…that means that we may soon witness the first mission to deflect an asteroid to protect our planet. It is hard to believe that science and technology have advanced to this point. We live in truly amazing times,” Lu concludes.

United Nations: action plan

Meanwhile, the United Nations is making progress on responding to any potential near-Earth object impact threat.

Credit: United Nations

Credit: United Nations

The UN’s Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space formally dissolved its Action Team 14.

It dissolved the special Action Team in recognition of the successful completion of its mandate to coordinate international mitigation efforts for near-Earth object (NEO) threats.

“Action Team 14 coordinated the establishment of the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) and thus played a vital role in the international community’s response to any potential near-Earth object impact threat,” said Elöd Both of Hungary, Chair of the Subcommittee.

2 Responses to “Two Years Ago: Aftermath from Russian Chelyabinsk Sky Blast”

  • Mike P says:

    Curious. Will the B612 Foundation also be funding the construction of titanium hulled space shuttle variants capable of slingshotting around the moon to land a motley crew of roughnecks on an incoming asteroid? Because that would be epic.

  • Mark Shortreed says:

    Are the UN scientists working on the NEO threats the same fellows telling the world that the poles are melting?
    Oh my.

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