Astronomers Trace Origin Of Russian Meteor

A team of astronomers have tracked down the origin of a meteor that hit Russia, which injured about 1,000 people earlier this month.

Using the thounsands of videos footage posted online, chronicling the strike, the team plotted the meteor's trajectory through the Earth's atmosphere, reconstructing it's orbit around the Sun and tracing it to a source of origin.  

Jorge Zuluaga and Ignacio from the University of Antioquia in Medellin used simple trigonometry, based off the aforementioned footage and the impact location of Lake Cherbarkul to calculate the height, speed and position of the rock as it collided with Earth.

Luckily to conduct this research, they were not short of material, as numerous videos from the likes of smartphones, CCTV and car-dashboard cameras were shared online.  All of which provided convenient time stamps and geo-locations for the team to work with.

Using the exact point in time when the meteor exudes a huge amount of light, casting noticeable shadows in the videos, the astronomers used this as a key factor of six different properties of its trajectory through Earth's atmosphere.  This allowed for a reconstruction of the meteor's original orbit around the Sun.

Estimated by NASA to be over 7,000 tonnes and about 17m (55ft), The Chelyabinsk meteor (labelled ChM in the diagram) appears to have been in elliptical orbit around the Sun before collision with Earth.  After further calculation, using software provided by the US Naval Observatory, it turns out the meteor belongs to the Apollo asteroids: a well known family of space rocks that can get very close to the Earth, making them a potential threat to our planet.

How small do you feel right now?  Their findings were published on the Arxiv website.