Russian meteor deposited dust trail that traveled the world

Visualization of dust plume from February 15, 2013 Russian meteor (NASA)

Visualization of dust plume from February 15, 2013 Russian meteor (NASA)

After exploding in the atmosphere with the force of 30 atomic bombs, the Chelyabinsk meteor of February 15 left a trail of dust that circled the globe and lingered in the atmosphere for at least three months NASA has learned.

The 59-foot wide space rock weighing 11,000 metric tons plunged into the atmosphere at 41,600 mph before violently disintegrating 14.5 miles high in the sky.

Related: Surprise attack: Meteor explodes over Russia hours before giant asteroid flyby (VIDEO)

NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite detected a large dust plume 3.5 hours after the explosion as it flew close to the scene.  The plume was zipping through the atmosphere at an altitude 25 miles high and at speeds at 190 mph NASA says.

Via NASA: “The limb profiler instrument in the Ozone Mapping Profiling Suite (OMPS) (aboard the Suomi NPP satellite) sensed a mass of aerosols at an altitude of 40 kilometers (25 miles) and moving east at more than 300 kilometers (190 miles) per hour. The cross-section above shows the level of aerosol extinction, or how much the dust and debris blocked sunlight.”

Related: Tracking the Chelyabinsk meteor plume (NASA)

It took just four days for the plume to circumnavigate the northern hemisphere.

Remarkably, the Ozone Mapping Profiling Suite instrument aboard the Suomi NPP satellite continued detecting the dust plume from the meteor for at least three additional months as it circled the globe, steered by powerful stratospheric winds.

“Indeed, we saw the formation of a new dust belt in Earth’s stratosphere, and achieved the first space-based observation of the long-term evolution of a bolide [meteor] plume,” says NASA physicist Nick Gorkavyi.

Watch this excellent movie about what NASA discovered about the meteor’s dust plume…

Additional reading: Around the World in Four Days: NASA Tracks Chelyabinsk Meteor Plume (NASA)

Also on Capital Weather Gang

How smartphones may make weather forecasts more intelligent