Meteor Hits Russia, Not. Maybe did.

UPDATE: Somebody found a hole in some ice.

This is a meteor streaking across the sky in the vicinity of the Urals:

Numerous additional films of that event and some analysis are on Phil Plait's blog, here.
Here's a FAKE video purported to be a crater formed by a fragment of that meteor BUT IT ISN'T:

From Phil Plait's blog: "Note also lots of hoaxes are turning up, like a video of a flaming crater that's actually a flaming pit in Turkmenistan that's been burning for decades (called "The Door to Hell"). Be cautious and be skeptica"

... apparently the shock wave of the meteor passing over head or breaking apart blasted apart doors and windows and such in nearby villages and about 1,000 people were somewhat injured by flying debris.

I'm also told that there is no connection between the nearby asteroid flyby and this event. According to Phil Plait (see link above) the direction of the objects flying across the sky in the videos seems to be different than the direction of the visiting asteroid. That is all provisional, of course, This is a breaking story and it will be a while before we can totally understand the details.

More like this

That's a pretty impressive crater. Wow!

By CherryBombSim (not verified) on 15 Feb 2013 #permalink

So far I've only see official looking confirmation of the meteor going over head, an explosion overhead that caused injuries form a shock wave, but not of a crater. Who knows, maybe the YouTube video is fake.

Anybody else got any info?

Yes. After looking around some more, that is a crater, but not one caused by any meteorite. Darn!

By CherryBombSim (not verified) on 15 Feb 2013 #permalink

The crater video is not a meteor crater! It's not a fake video, but it is not related to this event, or to meteors.

Link to Plait's blog is broken.

I have seen a photo of a hole which a fragment of the meteor is alleged to have punched in the ice covering a lake, but no confirmation that the meteor created that hole.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 15 Feb 2013 #permalink

In the summer of '69 I was living in Vermont. I was outside with a bunch of people when one of them pointed to the sky and shouted, "What's that!?". I looked up and saw the strangest thing I ever saw in the sky. It was a fireball as big as my thumb on my out-stretched arm. Its movement was very peculiar. If I had seen it on a film instead of with my own eyes I would have sworn it was fake. You couldn't have convinced me it was real.

I wavered just like one of those Flash Gordon space ships from the 1930's serials. And smoke and sparks were trailing off of it and falling from it, just exactly like those fake space ships dangling from nearly invisible strings in a Hollywood sound stage.

It was traveling relatively fast and was visible for only about three seconds before it disappeared over a hill. I waited for the expected huge bang and resultant explosion of smoke and flames. There was nothing. Not a sound. The object itself made no sound in its flight. If it crashed to Earth it must have happened far away. At least that's what I thought at the time. I never heard anything about what that fireball was, but whatever it was, it was huge and came very close to the Earth. Close enough to bounce around on the upper reaches of our atmosphere.

By Richard Chapman (not verified) on 15 Feb 2013 #permalink

This was the reentry of an unburned second stage test module launched from Star City cosmodrome.

And as if that's not enough...

Quoting the BBC online news story "Meteor Strike Injures Hundreds in Central Russia": Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, was quoted as saying: "Meteors are falling. Those are not meteors, it is Americans testing their new weapon."

Today we laugh, but in the more tense times of the Cold War, such sentiments might have been considered seriously scary. What if an object was mistaken for a nuclear missile...?

So now for some brief rational speculation on a topic more often given to irrationality and nonsense.

If you study the materials published by the US Gov and Air Force officials about UFO reports in the post-WW2 period, an unexpected conclusion emerges. About 5% of the sightings were considered legitimate unknowns, with solid witnesses and often with objective correlates such as radar images. Behind the scenes, scientists and other experts at NACA (predecessor to NASA) and at the US Air Force speculated about two possible explanations for some of those: extraterrestrial spacecraft, and advanced Soviet aircraft built with the aid of former German aeronautical and rocketry experts.

The problem was, what could the US Gov say publicly?

If they said some of these objects might be spacecraft, and they were actually Soviet aircraft, that would have given the Soviets confirmation that their new aircraft could penetrate US airspace with impunity. This would have had a highly destabilizing effect on the delicate diplomatic and military balance at the time.

But if they said that some of these objects were Soviet aircraft, and they were actually ET spacecraft, that would have been worse: the Soviets might have concluded that (since they too were seeing odd things in the sky), the US was using these sightings as an excuse for planning to attack the USSR. And that would have been an even more dangerous outcome.

So the US Gov did the only thing it could reasonably have done, which was to say that the whole subject was full of hoaxes and silliness, a great big joke to be laughed at and laughed off. And that became the common cultural meme, to the point where even today anyone who mentions the subject in a rational way is at risk of being ridiculed. (There was never a "secret cover-up," merely a make-do under difficult circumstances.)

The lessons here are:

One, now that we know there are no secret Russian devices in the sky, and the probability of ET visiting is vanishingly small, we should deal with the whole UFO subject like any other scientific puzzle and allocate a reasonable research budget to analyzing credible reports that may still come in from time to time.

Two, given that North Korea is engaging in provocative behavior with nuclear weapons and missile launches, we should be working with nearby nations to deal with contingencies such as meteors that could conceivably be misinterpreted and give rise to panic or overreaction (if nothing else, by the public).

Three and most importantly, we need to strengthen international efforts to track even the smaller objects in space that could potentially pose hazards to earth. We need to develop and repeatedly test the technology to deflect asteroids and other objects at sufficient distance that their threat potential can be reduced as far as possible.

The goal should be that any potentially hazardous object can be detected & deflected early, and that there should be no more unpleasant surprises from space. If the object that caused so much trouble in Russia had hit a populated area it would have caused potentially thousands of casualties. That near miss should be enough to motivate us to deal with this before another one occurs.

Lastly, it would take relatively little effort to promote, worldwide, simple precautions people should take if they see an object of that type: items such as, staying away from windows, which may shatter due to a delayed sonic boom.

You need to read my novel in order to understand the history of UFO's.


The amount of research dollars that go into looking for the species killers is pathetic. This is what is going to end our reign on this planet,

Quite frankly those videos from Russia were terrifying.

By Delurked Lurker (not verified) on 16 Feb 2013 #permalink

I've seen some objects that are similar to, "Cincinnati fire kites." Generally, they are a platform holding a candle with a light bag tied over the platform to catch heat from the flame. When they get high enough, if you don't know what they are, they look really weird. In short, they look like an old time special effect. The object looks like a large object seen at a distance, but the way the fire looks like a small object burning close....there is no sense of wind blowing a lot of heat back, but rather the flames show a slow speed effect.

By Mike Olson (not verified) on 17 Feb 2013 #permalink

Today we laugh, but in the more tense times of the Cold War, such sentiments might have been considered seriously scary. What if an object was mistaken for a nuclear missile…?

A fair point. The news reports from Chelyabinsk stated that there was no evidence of radiation. Why, I hear you ask, would the protocol involved testing for radiation? Because for about four decades, the most plausible scenario for explaining a 300 kiloton explosion over Chelyabinsk would have been a nuclear missile. And such a missile would likely have been moving from north to south (launched from the US northward over the pole), approximately in the direction this meteor was observed to be traveling.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 18 Feb 2013 #permalink

Indeed. The meteor was detected (aside from being seen and blowing up all over everyone) by the nuclear missile/explosion detection system.

Greg & Eric: I would guess that the reason the Russians immediately checked for radioactivity, and announced that none was detected, was to quickly put to rest any public or political speculation about nuclear weapons detonations, before a panic could occur. Putin may not be a warm & cuddly guy in American terms, but he's smart and pragmatic particularly when it comes to national security issues.

Greg, where can find your novel?

Delurker, one could say the same about R&D spending on climate impact mitigation. Know what's _really_ pathetic? We could be building thorium fission reactors right now (we had a working prototype in the 1960s), and retiring the world's coal-fired power plants. This step alone will buy us enough time to convert the rest of our energy infrastructure to fission & renewables, and all the time needed to develop & deploy fusion. But the sheer inertia of politics and economics is standing in the way. Grrr, grrr, grrr.

So in summary, an object the size of a bus set off a 500-KT detonation, comparable to a small H-bomb. If that had hit a city it would have caused thousands of deaths. We presently aren't searching for objects this small. We have the technology to "detect & deflect", we just have to muster the political will to develop it fully and put it into routine use.

That's where all of us here come in: to write to our elected officials and bug them about this until one of them speaks up and gets the ball rolling.

For points of comparison: the budgets for weather forecasting and weather event preparedness, and the budget for keeping our nuclear arsenal safe from accidents. If we can spend X and Y on those, we can spend Z on this.

The contrail shown on many videos indicates this was some kind of projectile propelled by one or more combustion engines. It's a double contrail, so that must be twin engines, each with its own exhaust. Meteors don't make contrails.

By Steve Tabor (not verified) on 19 Feb 2013 #permalink

Steve, meteors do make trails, and the thing was initially moving faster than any technology we have at present.

How do you kno that it is a metore u cant belive the news on everything sicentist are ment to kno months before this shit happens lol for real i think its te russians americans rockets or something that misfired and this is the cover up story eva tho about it that way??!??!!??? :)