Sunday, February 15, 2015

Is an Urban Tunguska Close at Hand?


In the wake of the meteorite explosion the Russian city of Chelyabinsk people two years ago today on Friday February 15th, 2013, we ask the question: Is Urban Tunguska Close at Hand?

The meteorite exploded with thirty times the explosive yield of the atomic bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima and injured about 1,100 people.

A possible disaster scenario where a sizable asteroid or meteorite explodes over or impacts a major urban center can no longer be treated as mere science fiction whimsy.

The Chelyabinsk  Event was a relatively minor incident. Next time we may not be so lucky.

Disaster: This graphic shows the sequence of events which led to the meteor crashing in Russia (the Daily Mail)

According to the Daily Mail:

Fireball from outer space: 1,000 injured as 40-ton meteor travelling at 33,000mph explodes over a terrified town

  • Large object flashed across the sky at 9.20am local time
  • Pictures show a streak of smoke followed by several bright blasts of flames
  • 82 of the injured are children and two are in intensive care
  • Landed in a lake near Chebarkul, a neighbouring town
  • 6,000 square feet of a roof at a zinc factory collapsed
  • One local said it 'was like a scene from the Armageddon movie'

Trees knocked over by the Tunguska blast. Photograph from the Soviet Academy of Science 1927 expedition led by Leonid Kulik

We were just lucky this time around. Next time our luck may just run out.  If yesterday’s meteorite were a bit larger the whole city of Chelyabinsk would have been devastated with a death toll measured in the hundreds of thousands - A modern day urban Tunguska event but, with a massive death toll.

Asteroids, comets and other space debris do indeed pose a very real and credible threat to the Earth’s inhabitants. I highly recommend the following article What Would Happen If The (2012 DA14) Asteroid Actually Hit Earth Today?” by Jesus Diaz on Gizmondo for further information on this very real existential threat. 

Today on Far Future Horizons we present two video features: the film documentary Siberian Apocalypse, concerning the Tunguska event and a short animated film clip showing the trail and trajectory of the meteorite.

Location of the event in Siberia (modern map)

The Tunguska event of June 30th, 1908 was the biggest explosion to rock planet Earth in the history of civilization. A blast that devastated sub zero Siberia. It was an assault more powerful then a thousand atomic bombs and one that destroyed everything in its path. The century old catastrophe remains one of science's most terrifying and hotly debated mysteries. Now NASA and others race against time to stop the next planet killer before it ignites Armageddon.

Siberian Apocalypse

Russian Meteor Crash - Trail and Trajectory Animated
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