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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Video of the Large Chunk of Chelyabinsk Asteroid Hitting a Frozen Lake!

By Phil Plait
A hole in the frozen surface Lake Chebarkul made by the impact of a half-ton chunk of the Chelyabinsk meteorite on Feb. 15, 2013. We now have video of this event. Credit: ITAR-TASS Itar-Tass Photos/Newscom

I don’t mean this blog to be all asteroids all the time, but a new video just came out (via Universe Today) that is pretty dang cool: It’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, but it shows the half-ton chunk of Chelyabinsk meteorite slamming into the Lake Chebarkul on the morning of Feb. 15, 2013:

It’s hard to spot. Starting about 38 seconds in, look to the upper left, above the fence, at the line where the icy lake surface is seen against the darker, distant background (see the picture below for a reference). At 41 seconds, you’ll see a puff of white that moves left to right; that’s the ice blown upward from the impact of the meteorite! I had to watch it a couple of times before I saw it.

Keep your eyes at the marked spot at 41 seconds into the video to see the ice plume from the meteorite impact. Credit: Nikolaj Mel’nikov

That’s amazing. Video of bright fireballs are common; some have already turned up from last night’s bolide over California. But video of an actual impact? Holy wow!

I just wrote quite a bit about the Chelyabinsk impact yesterday, so you can read that post for background info. The video above is from a security camera taken by Nikolaj Mel’nikov, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) east of Chelyabinsk. The piece that hit the lake left a huge hole in the ice, and was recovered by divers only a month ago, in October.

I would have to say this is the best-studied asteroid impact of all time. We’ve had multiple videos of the incoming rock, samples of the meteorites it scattered over the area, and now a video of the impact. It’s revolutionizing what we know about impacts, and not too surprisingly, I’m all for that.

Tip o’ the heat shield to Universe Today.

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