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Meet now the Chelyabinsk Event Campaign (CEC2013)

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The Chelyabinsk Meteoroid
Reconstructing the Orbit

In February 15 2013 a medium-sized meteoroid impacted the atmosphere in the region of Chelyabinsk, Russia. After its entrance to the atmosphere and after travel by several hundred of kilometers the body exploded in a powerful event responsible for physical damages and injured people spread over a region enclosing several large cities. This project is intended at a complete reconstruction of the orbit of the Chelyabinsk Event Impactor.

In a preliminary attempt we used evidence gathered by one camera at the Revolution Square in the city of Chelyabinsk and other videos recorded by witnesses in the close city of Korkino, we calculate the trajectory of the body in the atmosphere and use it to reconstruct the orbit in space of the meteoroid previous to the violent encounter with our planet. In order to account for the uncertainties implicit in the determination of the trajectory of the body in the atmosphere, we use Monte Carlo methods to calculate the most probable orbital parameters.

In the latest attempt we used footage taken from two additional vantages points to succesfully "triangualated" the trajectory of the event impactor.  We used for that purpose a new triangulation method developed by the group and able to look for a best-fit trajectory.  The method uses the elevation and azimuth of the bolide at an arbitrary number of vantages points and compare them with the so-called "altazimuth-footprint" predicted by different test trajectories.  The trajectory having the altazimuth-footprints closest to all the observation is the best-fit one.

In the tables below you will find a summary of the characteristics of the impactor atmospheric trajectory and the former asteroid heliocentric orbit.  For comparison we also include there the orbital elements as preliminarily published by two other groups. 

Atmospheric Trajectory


Source Projected Impact Point Radiant Velocity
Group Latitude Longitude Altitude Azimuth Elevation Speed  Height
Zuluaga, Ferrin & Geens (March 31, 2013)* 59.8842E 55.0537N 261.4 m 105.1° 17.7° 17.5 km/s 77.9 km
Zuluaga, Ferrin & Geens (March 7, 2013) 59.8703E 55.0958N 219.0 m 105.0° 15.8° 16.7 km/s 68.3 km

*[NEW] For additional information see summary of results "ChEI-ZGF2013-summary.txt" in the download section

Heliocentric Orbit

Source a (AU) e q (AU) Q (AU) i (o) ω (o) Ω (o)
Zuluaga, Ferrin & Geens (March 31, 2013)* 1.37 0.48 0.71 2.03 4.31 98.0 326.5
Zuluaga, Ferrin & Geens (March 7, 2013) 1.26 0.44 0.72 1.82 2.98 95.2 326.5
Zuluaga & Ferrin (February 22, 2013) 1.73 0.51 0.82 2.64 3.45 120.6 326.7
Borovicka et al. (February 23, 2013) 1.55 0.50 0.77 2.33 3.60 109.7 326.4
Lyytinen (February 23, 2013) 1.66 0.52 0.80 2.53 4.05 116.0 326.4

*[NEW] For additional information see summary of results "ChEI-ZGF2013-summary.txt" in the download section

Our results confirm that the object belonged to the Apollo family of Near Earth Asteroids.

This is the orbit of the latest and most precise determination performed by our group:

Virtual exploration of the median orbit in the preliminary reconstruction:

For additional information see also Ogle Earth (by Stefan Geens):

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Related papers

When using any of the material found here please cite one of this papers:

  • Zuluaga, J. I., I. Ferrin, and S. Geens (2013). The orbit of the Chelyabinsk event impactor as reconstructed from amateur and public footageArXiv e-prints. [ arXiv | download | stats ]
  • Zuluaga, J. I., and I. Ferrin (2013). A preliminary reconstruction of the orbit of the Chelyabinsk MeteoroidArXiv e-prints. [ arXiv | download | stats ]

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  • SUNDAY, MARCH 31 2013.  After analysing of 4 new videos with high quality information on the trajectory we have not found any substantial changes with respect to the results submitted with the paper of March 7.  Updated results are presented in the table before and in figures available at the download section.  Novel features in the last result includes: 1) we have upgraded the least-square procedure in order to take into account errors both in elevations and azimuths and choose a one-tailinstead of the two-tail analysis we have used until now and 2) we have used Google Earth to perform a selection of what we called the "preferred trajectory" (in contrast to the best-fit trajectory) defined as the path that satisfying the statistical condition of p<0.05 better agree (qualitatively) with a superposition of footage and trajectories as seen in Google Earth.  We are still expecting the response of EPSL editor and/or reviewer to update correspondingly the manuscript.

    See a summary of the results here: ChEI-ZFG2013-summary.txt 
  • WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27 2013.  PBS has just aired a documentary on the Chelyabinsk event.  The documentary collected incredible details about the event and the research efforts performed by several groups in the world to reconstruct the details of the impact.  The result is shocking and must be seen.  No mention to the research made by our group or the group of the Czech Academy of Sciences appears in the video.  Still a brief cameo of this weblog appears at minute 34:51 :)
    See the original video here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/meteor-strike.html
  • THURSDAY, MARCH 7 2013.  We have just uploaded to the arXiv the preprint of the last paper written by our team.  The paper has been submitted for publication to Earth and Planetary Science Letters and it has been coauthored with Stefan Geens who runs the Ogle Earth innitiative and who first published an analysis of the public images available of the Chelyabinsk Event.  All the Supplementary Information of that paper is available in this page (see download section).  
  • FRIDAY, MARCH 1st 2013. NASA has just published a detailed report on the Chelyabinsk event impactor trajectory and orbit.  They used data from space property of the US government to reconstruct the trajectory of the body in the atmosphere and from it estimate the heliocentric orbit.  No details on the orbit (elements) have been published yet by the NASA team neither a peer reviewed publication of the findings has been published yet.   The public report can be found here:

  • FRIDAY, MARCH 1st 2013. A succesful precise reconstruction of the orbit has been achieved today by our group.  An exhaustive triangulation of the trajectory has been performed by using information coming from several amateur and public footage (including but not restricted to the two videos used for the preliminary orbit determination).  A paper with the results have been already submitted to a high impact peer reviewed journal.  We hope that these results could be published in the following days to weeks.  This is another example of a succesful collaboration between enthusiasts and scientists. 

  • SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24 2013. A plot showing the evolution of aparent magnitude of the Chelyabinsk Meteoroid as a function of time for the   previous 10 days has been produced.  See download section.

  • SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24 2013.  The Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams of the International Astronomical Union released yesterday Saturday February 23 2013 a telegram entitled "TRAJECTORY AND ORBIT OF THE CHELYABINSK SUPERBOLIDE" by Jiri Borovicka, Pavel Spurny, and Lukas Shrbeny, Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences, Ondrejov, Czech Republic, reporting the precise computation of the atmospheric trajectory and velocity of the superbolide of Chelyabinsk.  The complete text of the telegram is available here: 


    Although no details have been provided yet by the Czech group, the methods and data used by them are similar to that used by Zuluaga & Ferrin (2013).   The resulting orbital elements coincide also with that of the "median" orbit computed by the Colombian Researchers.  

    Although the result would seem definitive an independent verification of the results as well as a publication of their methods and sources are still required.

  • FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22 2013.  The American Meteoritic Society (AMS) published another preliminary estimation of the orbital elements.  Their results are available in this entry: http://www.amsmeteors.org/2013/02/large-daytime-fireball-hits-russia.

    The elements estimated by them are in pretty correspondence to that published by Zuluaga & Ferrin (2013).  A comparative table of both sets of elements are published in the Wikipedia Entry for "2013 Russian Meteor Event".

Apr 10, 2013 (06:32)., by webadmin

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The preliminary reconstruction performed by our group was based in the method proposed by Stefan Geens in his blog Ogle Earth.  We used for that reconstruction two videos mentioned by Geens and the users posting comments in his blog.

The newest reconstruction uses footage coming from two addtional places (the Privokzalnaya Square and the Central Square in Kamensk-Uralsky).   More information on the places where these two videos were shoot can be found in the latest paper of our team. 

Camera across the street in the Central Chelyabinsk Square (Revolution Square)

Amateur video in Korkino showing the almost "zenithal" trajectory of the fireball:

The Privokzalnaya Square 2 km away from the Revolution Square in Chelyabinsk:

The Central Square at Kamensk Uralsky:

[NEW: MARCH 31/2013]

Downtown in Ekaterimburg:


A school in Miass:

Mar 31, 2013 (03:36)., by webadmin

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You can run our vPython interactive scripts to visualize the reconstructed orbit of the Chelyabinsk Meteoroid.

In order to run follow the steps below:

  1. Download and install vPython.
  2. Download the zip files with the animation+data found in the Download section of this page (Animations folder)
  3. Unzip and run using VIDLE!

Disclaimer: you can find some issues related to the folder where the scripts look for data.  Please modify the scripts correspondingly to correct the problem.

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Ex. *cosmo*, astroph*stellar*.djvu
< >
You are in Library top (Library top)
(93.8 kb, 2013-04-02-00)
Altazimuth footprints from a joint 7 vantage points triangulation (March 31, 2013)
(3.1 kb, 2013-04-02-00)
Google Earth photomontage using footage extracted from videos at given vantage points (use with ChEI-GoogleEarthTrajectories.kml)
(10.6 kb, 2013-04-02-00)
Google Earth trajectories for our results and the results of other groups (use with ChEI-GoogleEarthFootage.kmz)
(67.3 kb, 2013-04-02-00)
Orbital elements a-e and comparison with major NEA families (latest reconstruction, march 31, 2013)
(71.6 kb, 2013-04-02-00)
3D orbit of the latest reconstruction (March 31, 2013)
(23.4 kb, 2013-04-02-00)
Edge on orbit for the latest reconstruction (March 31, 2013)
(48.4 kb, 2013-04-02-00)
Up view of the orbit for the latest reconstruction (March 31, 2013)
(8.1 kb, 2013-04-02-00)
Complete summary of results for the latest determination (March 31, 2013)
0 subd.( ...), 5 files, 2013-02-25-02
0 subd.( ...), 20 files, 2013-07-20-18
Google Earth Files
1 subd.( comments...), 12 files, 2013-07-20-18
Files associated to March 7 Reconstruction
0 subd.( ...), 49 files, 2013-03-07-19
Files associated with the February 26 Preliminary Reconstruction

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