Asteroid 2012 DA14 and Russian meteor Feb 2013 – Orbits

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by Pat Browne

I recently received an email asking:

“There was such a fuss being made about the asteroid fly by up until the day of, and then it was totally distracted by the event in Russia. I’ve looked several times on Space Weather, where they were anticipating the asteroid for weeks, and there has been nothing. …Could they have miscalculated and the asteroid actually hit the atmosphere?”

The answer is definitively No. Russian meteorite was definitely an unrelated, random event, and yes, it was on a totally opposite course.

Both trajectories have been analyzed . The following from NASA shows the distinctly different pattern of the asteroid orbit (earth-crossing or Near Earth Orbit satellite) vs. the outline of the meteor ellipse which comes from a more highly elliptical parent body:

 

Courtesy NASA – http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/Watch%20the%20Skies/posts/post_1361037562855.html
Circular near earth blue line = Asteroid
Elliptical trajectory = meteor material

It comes from the difference between asteroids and meteor showers . Meteor showers come from fragments of comets and asteroids as they get closer to the sun and slough off some of the debris. Asteroids are the distinct parent bodies – of which a class of them cross earth orbit . These are called NEOs.

Two very good posts have come from APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day)

Feb 18 2012 APOD on Russian Meteor

Feb 17 APOD on Asteroid 2012 DA14