Washington, August 20: A meteor that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk left behind a huge plume of dust, with hundreds of tons of material in it, in the atmosphere that still lingered three months after the February 15 explosion, according to a new study.
Paul Newman, chief scientist for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s atmospheric science lab, said in a statement that about 30 years ago they could only state that the plume was embedded in the stratospheric jet stream but the current models are capable of precisely tracing the bolide and understanding its evolution as it moves around the Earth, Discovery News reported.
The Russian meteor weighing 11,000 metric tons exploded nearly 24 kilometers above Chelyabinsk, at that time some of the remains of the asteroid crashed to the ground, but rest amounting to hundreds of tons of dust remained in the atmosphere.
A team that was led by NASA Goddard atmospheric physicist Nick Gorkavyi, who is from Chelyabinsk, were thinking if it would be possible to trace the cloud using NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite and indeed it was.
Gorkavyi said that the team saw the formation of a new dust belt in Earth’s stratosphere, and were able to achieve the first space-based observation of the long-term evolution of a bolide plume.
Initial measurements taken 3.5 hours after the explosion showed that the dust, 40 km high in the atmosphere, was racing at 306 km/h.
According to researchers, even 3 months into the study, Suomi detected belt of dust circling the globe.
The findings have been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. (ANI)