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Chelyabinsk meteor: Ten years on from 'wake-up call', how safe are we from a potentially catastrophic strike?

A decade on from the Chelyabinsk meteor, and our planet has come a long way in detecting the threat of interstellar objects potentially hurtling into the atmosphere. But has the risk been completely eliminated - and exactly how prepared are we for another dramatic impact?
Chelyabinsk fireball meteor

Chelyabinsk fireball recorded by a dashcam from Kamensk-Uralsky, north of the city of Chelyabinsk
It wasn't quite the day the Earth stood still, but those who witnessed a fiery asteroid briefly outshine the sun as it soared towards the Russian city of Chelyabinsk will almost certainly never forget it.

Comparable to the size of a house and travelling at a scintillating 11 miles per second, what was quickly dubbed the Chelyabinsk meteor arrived unannounced in a manner reminiscent of a science-fiction disaster film. It was an unnerving spectacle.

Comment: Indeed, this was discovered beforehand and thus was not being tracked. What gives the Chelyabinsk meteor a terrifying edge is that another, different, space rock was being tracked and was forecast to enter Earth's atmosphere later that same day!

Dashcam footage from the morning of 15 February 2013, in the central Russian city close to the Ural Mountains, shows the small asteroid entering the Earth's atmosphere before it exploded with 30 times more force than the US atom bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in the Second World War.

Windows shattered, buildings were damaged, and hundreds of people were injured - but Chelyabinsk got lucky.

"Had it been directly over the city, the damage would have been worse," warns NASA's planetary defence officer Lindley Johnson. "It was definitely a wake-up call."

Comment: And don't forget what the Chelyabinsk meteor events sounded like...

If you ever see a long-duration fireball streak through the sky, and you suspect it's 'close' to your location, stay away from windows for a few minutes!

The shockwave generated by the above atmospheric explosion would have knocked any nearby aircraft to the ground. Fortunately, none were in the vicinity at the time, but one wonders about other 'unexplained' airplane crashes in recent years: e.g., What are they hiding? Flight 447 and Tunguska Type Events

To answer the question asked in the above headline, the risk posed by increased cometary debris isn't just a matter of 'potentially catastrophic strikes'- i.e., single asteroids which make impact and cause devastation over a discrete geographic area - but also multiple other, planet-wide, risk factors such as the atmosphere becoming loaded with comet dust (aka 'meteor smoke') from all these meteor fireball events in recent years, and what effect this is having on the climate...

AMS fireballs table
© Sott.net

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Meteor fireball over Ohio and 2 other states on February 14

© Ryan Connor
We received 8 reports about a fireball seen over MI, OH and PA on Tuesday, February 14th 2023 around 09:41 UT.

For this event, we received one video and one photo.


Small Asteroid 2023 CX1 (NEOCP Sar2667) impacted Earth on February 13

On 2023 February 12.8 (20:18:07 UTC), K. Sarneczky found a small asteroid with the 0.60-m Schmidt + CCD of the Piszkéstető Observatory in Hungary (K88 MPC code) that was soon after put on the NEOCP list with the provisional designation Sar2667 for the follow-up by other observers. The object was subsequently imaged by many observers around the world and various impact assessment systems found a 100% impact probability in the area of the English Channel on Feb. 13 between 02 and 04 UTC. This is the second discovery by Sarneczky of an impactor, following the 2022 EB5 event in March 2022.

M.P.E.C. 2023-C103 issued subsequently on 2023 February 13 at 04:13 UT assigned the official designation 2023 CX1 to Sar2667 with the following comment:
K. Sarneczky reported a new NEOCP candidate observed at GINOP-KHK (K88). Rapid follow-up from multiple sites indicated an impact with the Earth's atmosphere on February 13 03:00 UTC near the coast of Normandy, France, as determined by imminent impact monitoring services such as JPL's Scout, ESA's Meerkat and MPC's internal warning system.
Map of the impact zone predicted to occur a few kilometers from French coast, North-East of Le Havre. Click on it for a bigger version.

Asteroid Impact Site
© International Meteor Organization
2023 CX1 was a small Aten asteroid with an estimated size of ~1.0 m (based on the object's absolute magnitude H=32.6).

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Spectacular meteor fireball seen from northern France and southern UK on February 13

© Christophe C.
We received 84 reports about a fireball seen over Île-de-France, Bruxelles, Centre-Val de Loire, Cymru, England, Esch-sur-Alzette, Flanders, Grand Est, Hauts-de-France, Limburg, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Normandie, Normandy, North Rhine-Westphalia, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Pays de la Loire, Vlaams Gewest, Wales and Zeeland on Monday, February 13th 2023 around 02:58 UT.

For this event, we received 17 videos and 6 photos.

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Meteor fireball seen over LaBelle, Florida on February 9

A Fox 4 viewer sent in this video of a fireball seen burning over Port LaBelle early Thursday morning, around 5 a.m.

Fireballs like this are caused by meteors burning up as they hit Earth's atmosphere.

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Huge meteor fireball over Saudi Arabia on February 9

A video clip circulating on social media documents the moment a meteorite fell in Dawadmi Governorate, northwest of Riyadh.

Meteorologist Abdulaziz Al-Hussain said in a tweet: "A strong blue light appeared in the sky surrounding the meteorite in the Najd region, and a tremor was said to be felt on its impact," local media reports .

At the same level, the head of the Astronomical Society in Jeddah, Eng. Majed Al Zahra confirmed that this bright meteor, which is also called (the fireball), is larger than the ordinary meteor, and drew a lot of attention in social media platforms, where many confirmed to see it in a very bright blue color. It illuminated the surface of the earth and was accompanied by a loud sound, which means that it descended very deep into the atmosphere.

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Green meteor fireball crosses the skies of Puerto Rico on February 6

A fireball was captured in the skies of Puerto Rico at 10:01 pm on Monday, said the Caribbean Astronomy Society (SAC).

According to the institution, the meteorite was a piece of the asteroid called "2001 YB5", belonging to the "Delta Cancrids" meteor shower.

The meteor disintegrated in the atmosphere at a speed of 62,000 miles per hour and it is possible that small fragments reached the surface over the sea.

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Meteor fireball over Arkansas and other states on February 7

© Luke J.
We received 120 reports about a fireball seen over AL, AR, KS, LA, MO, MS, OK, TN and TX on Tuesday, February 7th 2023 around 00:59 UT.

For this event, we received 7 videos and 2 photos.

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Meteor fireball over Michigan and other states on February 2

We received 23 reports about a fireball seen over IN, MI, NY, OH and PA on Thursday, February 2nd 2023 around 11:12 UT.

For this event, we received one video.

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Large meteor fireball explodes over Krasnoyarsk, Russia on January 31

Meter over Krasnoyarsk: Locals report their houses shaking

Meter over Krasnoyarsk: Locals report their houses shaking
A large meteor allegedly measuring from one to five meters was seen in the sky over Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk on Tuesday, Sergey Veselkov, chief of the Reshetnev University observatory, told TASS.

Videos of a fireball flying over the city were posted on the internet on Tuesday evening.