Astronomers Have Determined the Orbit of the Russian Meteorite

No one saw the asteroid coming, but astronomers now have an idea of where it came from

By on February 26th, 2013 13:22 GMT
The asteroid that struck Russia earlier this month took astronomers by surprise, but that in itself isn't a surprise, we simply don't have the technology to track asteroids that small.

But now that the asteroid crossed path with Earth, astronomers have been working on figuring out where it came from.

They now have a pretty good idea, Researchers Jorge Zuluaga and Ignacio Ferrin at the University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia used footage of the asteroid crashing to Earth to determine its trajectory.

They were able to do this thanks to the large number of videos of the asteroid as it burned through the atmosphere.

They used two video sources for which they had the exact location and the location of the hole left in an ice lake by a piece of the meteorite to triangulate its height, position and speed.

But that alone was not enough to determine the orbit of the asteroid before it intersected with Earth. They used other videos to try to extract as much data as possible and have come up with a possible, though tentative, orbit for the asteroid.

Based on this they also determined that the asteroid is part of the Apollo asteroids, known to intersect with the Earth.

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