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Russian meteor’s origin traced to dreaded Apollo asteroid cluster

February 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Science

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Astronomers trace the origin of a meteor that injured more than 1,000 in Russia’s Ural Mountains region.
The 49 feet wide, 7,000 ton meteor smashed into Lake Chebarkul, in the Ural Mountains, near the city of Chelyabinsk. Thanks to Russia’s requirement that drivers carry dash cams to record accidents, the meteor’s descent was captured on video from multiple sources.

A team from Colombia have managed to work out where it came from – not only the direction in the sky but also its orbit around the Sun.

Jorge Zuluaga and Ignacio Ferrin said that they used relatively basic physics and maths to work out how fast the rock fell, and in which direction.

From there they were able to build a picture of its trajectory in space in an elliptical orbit around the sun, and traced its origin the the Apollo asteroid cluster.

Rocks from that region regularly cross Earth’s orbit. Of the 9,700 near-Earth space rocks discovered by astronomers, more than 5,000 originate from this region.

Unfortunately, this likely means that it won’t be the last threatening space rock to pass nearby – in fact it’s certain than more will strike the Earth relatively soon (in cosmic terms).

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