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Chelyabinsk's (much) smaller sibling asteroid fell over Arizona in 2016

13 May 2020, 13:00 UTC
Chelyabinsk's (much) smaller sibling asteroid fell over Arizona in 2016
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On 2 June, 2016, at 10:56:26 UTC (03:56 local time), a very bright fireball fell over Arizona. It was seen by hundreds of witnesses and caught on multiple cameras, including some designed to look for bright meteors in the sky. In many respects it was a typical meteor, if extremely luminous due to its size (something less than a meter wide).

Except for one thing: It's likely this rock was the older brother of the one that fell over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, the largest impact the Earth has seen in over a century. And that makes it very interesting indeed.

The meteor came in from the north-northeast over central Arizona at 16.6 km/sec (60,000 kph), slammed into Earth's atmosphere, and decelerated heavily. Cameras picked it up when it got hot enough to start to glow at an altitude of 108 kilometers above Earth. The ram pressure of it moving at hypersonic velocity squeezed it so hard that at 44 km up it split, ejecting a large fragment. The main body then began to disintegrate, experiencing major breakup episodes at 34, 29, and 25 km up, ejecting a lot of mass as dust and flashing brilliantly as it did. The ...

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