Chelyabinsk Bolide Plume as seen by NPP and NASA Models
Released on August 14, 2013
Shortly after dawn on Feb. 15, 2013, a bolide measuring 18 meters across and weighing 11,000 metric tons, screamed into Earth's atmosphere at 18.6 kilometers per second. Burning from the friction with Earth's thin air, the space rock exploded 23.3 kilometers above Chelyabinsk, Russia. The event led to the formation of a new dust belt in Earth's stratosphere. Scientists used data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite along with the GEOS-5 computational atmospheric model to achieve the first space-based observation of the long-term evolution of a bolide plume.
NPP's Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) Limb instrument first observed the dust plume from the explosion about 1,100 kilometers east of Chelyabinsk, due to the location of the satellite's orbit. NPP's second observation was farther west, close to Chelyabinsk, because the spacecraft's orbit moves from east to west. The third observation of the plume occurred the day following the event. The OMPS instrument could only see the plume during the daytime, and the NPP orbit had progressed westward away from the plume and into night by the time it was again over the plume.
The OMPS Limb instrument observations are made by looking backward (relative to NPP's orbit) toward the Earth's limb. The instrument makes measurements through three separate slits. Early on, some of the plume observations where only made in one or two of the slits, but later observations tended to include all three slits as the plume stretched out.
This visualization shows the how observations by the Suomi NPP satellite's Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) Limb instrument, and information from the GEOS-5 computational atmospheric model, together revealed the bolide plume snaking around the atmosphere.
These vertical profiles of the atmosphere are based on the Suomi NPP satellite's Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) Limb instrument; measuring at an angle to Earth's surface, the instrument scans tiny slices of the atmosphere through 3 separate slits.
GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 126.96.36.199.0