Research

Break-Up of the Chelyabinsk Meteor

In 2013, a meteor about 20-meters in diameter broke up over Chelyabinsk, Russia in a dramatic display that damaged buildings within 100 km and injured more than 1200 people. To better understand the threat presented by such objects, NASA has been conducting 3D, hypersonic simulations like the one shown here. The meteor material is shown in gray and black. Brighter colors like red and yellow indicate the hot, high-pressure shock wave caused when the meteor slams into the atmosphere. Aerodynamic effects quickly erode the meteor, ripping it into pieces that disperse energy explosively in the atmosphere. While you might think the meteor breaking up is good for us, it’s actually the blast waves from its break-up that cause the most damage.  (Image and video credit: NASA, source; via Gizmodo)

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