Kamchatka meteor

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Kamchatka meteor
Kamchatka superbolide smoketrail.gif
The bolide captured by Himawari 8 operated by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Date18 December 2018 (2018-12-18)
Time11:48 local time (23:48 UTC)
Locationthe Bering Sea, near the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia
Coordinates56°54′N 172°24′E / 56.9°N 172.4°E / 56.9; 172.4Coordinates: 56°54′N 172°24′E / 56.9°N 172.4°E / 56.9; 172.4
Cause10-14-meter (32-45-foot) asteroid[1]
Impact energy: 173 kiloton
Radiated energy: 130 TJ[2]

The Kamchatka meteor was a meteor that air-bursted off the east coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia on 18 December 2018. At 11:48 local time, an asteroid roughly 10 meters in diameter entered the atmosphere at a speed of 32.0 kilometres per second (72,000 mph), with a TNT equivalent energy of 173 kilotons, more than 10 times the power of the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The object entered at a steep angle of 7 degrees, close to the zenith,[3][4] terminating in an airburst at an altitude of 25.6 kilometres (15.9 mi).


Approximate sizes of the Kamchatka object, Chelyabinsk asteroid, and the Tunguska object relative to a human.

Based on the energy and velocity of the impact, the asteroid had a mass of 1600 metric tonnes and a diameter of between 10 and 14 meters (32 to 45 feet) depending on its density.[1][5][6][better source needed] The impact was announced around 8 March 2019,[1] and is the largest asteroid to impact Earth since the 20-meter Chelyabinsk meteor's entry in February 2013, and the third largest recorded meteor since 1900 after that and the Tunguska event, likely caused by a 50-100 meter asteroid or comet.[7]

NASA's Terra satellite and the Japanese Meteorological Agency's Himawari 8 recorded the dust trail from the event, although their observation interval was too long to image the airburst itself.[7]

The dominant period of the CTBTO infrasound was very long, on the order of 20 to 25 seconds corresponding to energies on the order of 100 to 200 kilotons.[3] The shockwave was strong enough that it would have cracked windows if the shockwave was over a populated region.

Events as large as this are statistically estimated to occur once every 20-40 years on average,[7] although as the larger Chelyabinsk meteor occurred less than 6 years previous, the exact interval is essentially random.

As of January 2016, the Planetary Defense Coordination Office was founded and has been given a $50 million dollar annual budget to find and track objects, and is able to find objects larger than 30-50 meters in diameter. Calls for more funding and better equipment have been called for due to a growing number of lost asteroids. As of Jan 2017, 723,367 asteroids were being tracked in the solar system, with more discovered, lost and recovered daily. Since 2011, on average, 80 new minor planets of diameter 30-50 meters or more are discovered each day.[8] As of March 2019, 724 (roughly one in a thousand) are classified as potentially hazadous asteroids (PHA). Both the Chelyabinsk and Kamchatka meteors were not on the list and would have been too small to detect with current resources.


  1. ^ a b c Meteor Scientist Peter Brown
  2. ^ Fireball and Bolide Reports (JPL)
  3. ^ a b Leonard David. "Huge Meteor Explosion a Wake-Up Call for Planetary Defense". Scientific American. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  4. ^ "NASA told about the big meteor explosion in Kamchatka, which nobody noticed". 24-my.info. 18 March 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Asteroid impact calculator". convertalot.com. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  6. ^ Molina, Brett (19 March 2019). "Scientists explain why we're just now learning about a giant meteor that exploded over Earth last year". usatoday.com. USA Today. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Rincon, Paul (18 March 2019). "US detects huge meteor explosion". BBC. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Running Tallies – Minor Planets Discovered". IAU Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 19 August 2015.