Created: 30th October 2002
Updated: 3rd May 2005
Updated: 26th March 2006
have taken great interest in the event that occured in Russia on
the night of 24th/25th September 2002. I have recently been in
contact with the the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics (ISTP)
at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and
the Deputy Director, Victor Grigoryev was kind enough to send me
this release of preliminary results which is in full below. Very
interesting reading. Especially compared with everything that
has already been said about this event in the last month. I will
keep this page regularly updated as more news comes.
VITIM BOLIDE. PRELIMINARY RESULTS.
(29th October 2002)
has already been reported, a bright bolide was observed in the
Irkutsk region in the night from September 24 to 25, 2002, which
was accompanied by dramatic luminous and acoustic effects.
first reconnaissance expedition was sent to the Mamsko-Chuisky
district of the Irkutsk region and carried out a relevant
exploration of the phenomenon from October 22 to 27. The
expedition was organized by the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial
Physics (ISTP) at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of
Sciences, and by Irkutsk State University. The expedition was
fitted out by the Institute of Geochemistry and the Institute of
the Earth’s Crust SB RAS. The scientific program was worked
out by Corresponding Member of RAS, Deputy Director of the ISTP
SB RAS Victor Grigoryev, in close collaboration with
Vice-Chairman of the Meteorites Committee of RAS Mikhail
expedition included its leader, senior researcher of the ISTP SB
RAS, Director of the Astronomical Observatory at Irkutsk State
University, Cand.Sc. (Phys.&Math.) Sergei Yazev,
and the staff-member of the Observatory, Editor-in-Chief of the
“Commersant - Vostochnaya Sibir” newspaper (supplement to
the “Commersant” newspaper) Dmitri Semenov.
In co-ordination with the ISTP SB RAS administration, the
expedition was joined by journalists: Head of the Science and
Education Division of the “Komsomolskaya pravda” newspaper
Andrei Moiseyenko, the correspondents of the “Itogi”
magazine Denis Ryabtsev and Dmitri Plenkin, and the
correspondent of the Irkutsk “Pyatnitsa” weekly Sergei
Solonenko. It was hoped that Alexander Perepelov from the
Institute of Geochemistry SB RAS would join the expedition to
collect a number of snow samples in the area of the fall, for a
subsequent chemical analysis, but, for some reasons, his
participation had to be canceled.
25 eye-witnesses from 6 populated localities in the
Mamsko-Chuisky district were polled directly and by phone. The
expedition members arrived in the settlement of Mama by plane;
after polling the eye-witnesses, they departed by automobile to
the settlement of Muskovit on the left bank of the Vitim river,
upstream from Mama. Under way they polled the eye-witnesses in
the settlement of Lugovsky (Lugovka). On October 24, the
expedition members sailed across the Vitim by a motor boat
(sludge ice had already been flowing in the river) and put up in
the abandoned settlement of Bolshoi Severny. On the map, it is
at about 10 km from the end point of the bolide’s path
(explosion) as determined by the USAF satellite. In the evening
of October 24, the passage was set up across the Bolshaya
October 25, the expedition got to the left bank of the Bolshaya
Severnaya river and arrived the point indicated by the
satellite. The geographical coordinates were monitored using the
portable GPS receivers provided by the Institute of Geochemistry
and the Institute of the Earth’s Crust SB RAS. Photographing
pictures and selective video shooting, and also a radiation
(from gamma-radiation) monitoring of terrain were carried out.
information obtained is being processed and studied. Preliminary
results of the expedition may be summarized as follows.
exceptionally bright bolide was sighted over the territory of
the Irkutsk region in the night from September 24 to 25, at
about 1 hour 50 minutes of local time. In the settlement of
Mama, through low clouds (cloud amount 10) with rain (the lower
edge of clouds 1100-1200 m), the illumination brightness was
very high (it hurt one to look at). because of the clouds, there
were virtually no sightings of the bolide itself along the path
of its flight. There were only a few observations of a “sphere
with a tail”, perhaps, through rarely occurring openings in
the clouds and from a large distance when looking sideways at
the path. The flight of the fire-ball was sighted from distances
of 70 kilometers at least. In the area over which there were
the phenomenon look like a gradual appearance of a uniform white
bright luminescence in the south-west that flooded the entire
skies and then left north-eastwards. In the area of the
settlements of Mama and Lugovka, the color of luminescence was
observed to change from white to blue and reddish-claret-colored.
Vitim bolide may be categorized as so-called electrophonic
bolides. At the time of luminescence in the area of the
settlement of Mama, eye-witnesses report sounds (rustling,
buzzing). The employee of the Mama airport Georgy
Konstantinovich Kaurtsev witnesses that the filament lamps of
the chandelier glowed to half their intensity at the time of the
bolide’s flight, although the entire settlement was devoid of
electrical power supply that night. The airport guards Vera
Ivanovna Semenova and Lidiya Nikolayevna Berezan pointed to a
scaring phenomenon : a bright luminescence at the upper ends of
thin little wood poles of the fence surrounding the airport’s
meteorological ground. All that may be treated as resulting from
a strong alternate electric current that was produced when the
bolide was flying. It should be noted that the distance from the
flight path in upper atmospheric layers to the settlement of
Mama was several tens of kilometers.
explosion yield of the meteoroid flying at a high altitude in
the atmosphere was significant. Local residents, who have a
wealth of experience on mining operations using large (from
hundreds to thousands of kilograms) charges of ammonite, claim
that the explosion was extremely powerful. That was concluded
from their sensations from the explosion and the shock wave. A
strong shock, shakings, vibration of window-panes, etc. were
observed within a radius of no less than 30-50 km from the
not seem that, originally, the location of the explosion’s
epicenter was accurately estimated. At the point indicated by
the American satellite, the expedition detected only separate
pine-trees, with their tops cut away (chopped off) at the height
of 5-7 meters. The upper parts of the trees, 3-5 meters long,
that had fallen in the northern direction, lay nearby one
another. Obviously, that was not the result of the shock wave,
because the adjacent trees remained intact. A sample of one of
the spalled piece was brought to Irkutsk. It may be suggested
that the forest was hit by fragments of the meteorite that
exploded in the atmosphere. as witnessed by two hunters Dmitri
Sasun and Pyotr Fedorchuk (the other hunters
now are in the taiga and are unable to be communicated
with), to the south-east of the concerned point there are more
conspicuous effects (topless tress occur more frequently than
areas of recent cutting (especially on hill tops). Animals
(sable) had left the area, so no hunting is possible there).
Many hunter’s paths are obstructed by fallen trees. It was
surmised that the epicenter of the exposure zone lies father to
the east (or, perhaps, south-east) of the point previously
indicated by the satellite, in the area between the Bolshaya
Severnaya and Takhtynga rivers.
agreed upon with the District Mayor Nikolai Chekashin, once the
rivers are frozen, in the anticipated area it is planned to use
the snow-tractor in order to estimate the situation in the
vicinities of the expected epicenter. Currently that place is
virtually inaccessible because the rivers are not frozen yet.
After the end of the hunting period (and the hunters have left
the taiga), the exposure area will be determined more exactly.
It has been ascertained already now that a minimum diameter of
such an area is at least 25 kilometers.
be expected, the level of radiation (in gamma-radiation) was in
the limits of natural background.
appropriate to think of the organization of a large-scale
(perhaps, international) summertime expedition in which
professionals would participate. The members of the expedition
think that there is good chance of spotting the traces of the
fall of large fragments and, possibly, fragments themselves, on
the slopes of tall mountains (without vegetation) facing the
bolide’s flight direction.
members of the expedition put special emphasis on a huge number
of inaccuracies and corruptions
of facts which have recently been announced by the mass media,
both regional and Russia-wide and in foreign countries, in
connection with the sightings of the Vitim bolide. It should be
especially stressed that
there were no
brightenings for the several days which would be associated with
the meteorite (some of the eye-witnesses sighted a polar aurora
a few days thereafter, but it had nothing to do with the
meteorite). Contrary to reports, neither
helicopter, nor all-terrain
vehicle nor cutter
were at the expedition members’ disposal. The expedition has
not brought to Irkutsk any fragments of burnt trees, because
no signs of inflammation have been able to be found to date. No
impact craters were discovered. The expedition period was such
as pointed out in this press release.
objectives that were pursued by the expedition (polling of
eye-witnesses, as well as a more exact determination of
the area in which possible fragments could have fallen,
and of the character of damage) have been achieved. The success
of the expedition is in many respects due to the very good
organizational support from the administration of the
Mamsko-Chuisky District (headed by Nikolai Chekashin), and of
the settlement of Vitimsky (headed by Alexander Sergiy).
It should be
noted that all what has been said here is of strictly
preliminary character. Details will be available as the
information from eye-witnesses and records made by the
expedition members are processed. The IGTRK company is planning
to prepare a special television item using video material
acquired by the expedition.
Traces Of The Vitim Meteoroid
Informnauka (Informscience) Agency
May 2, 2005
"In 2002-2003, three
expeditions involving specialists of the Institutes of
Geochemistry, of Solar-Terrestrial Geophysics, and of the
Earth’s Crust, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (Irkutsk)
looked for traces of meteoroid that had fallen down in the
north-east of the Irkutsk Province, in the Mamsko-Chuisk region.
None of the expeditions found either craters or meteoroid
fragments. Only fallen trees and minor particles of meteorite
substance mark the direction of celestial body falling.
At night of September 25, 2002, inhabitants of the Mamsko-Chuisk
and Bodaibinsk regions (Irkutsk Province) watched the flight of
a bright bolide. Although the weather was bad, a lot of people
distinctly saw the surgeless white bright fluorescence flaming
up in the south-west. It filled up all the sky and then moved
from the valley of the Vitim River to the north-eastern
direction. The fluorescence turned from white to blue and then
to redly vinous. The flight of meteoroid was accompanied by
hollow rumble and completed with a blow and shaking of the
The rumble and rustling heard by multiple natives may be
connected with occurrence of electric wave in the atmosphere.
The variable electric field was so strong that in the apartment
houses of Mama settlement, which were cut off power supply at
that time, incandescent lamps began to shine dimly. Seismic
stations of the Irkutsk Province recorded only feeble local
shaking. Bright fluorescence at the altitude of 62 kilometers
was recorded by a US satellite which tracked the fluorescence
down to the 30 kilometer altitude. The satellite identified the
altitude and position data of two points, based on which the
Russian scientists managed to reconstruct the meteorite’s
trajectory and sent several expeditions in search of it.
Nearby the lane, the researchers found a lot of broken and
uprooted trees. No hurricanes took place there at that time, so
the forest could be brought down only by the blast wave of
meteoroid flying in the lower atmosphere. However, amplitude of
the wave coming down from the altitude of 20 to 30 kilometers
was unable to cause such damage. This contradiction has not been
resolved by specialists yet.
The second Vitim expedition looked for cosmogeneous substance
particles, which could be preserved in the snow covering tops of
the hills in the area where the meteorite had fallen down.
However, the researchers found only hollow spherules, their size
normally not exceeding 100 to 200 mcm. Fragments of these
fragile spherical components colored brown and deep-brown
contain oxide and silicate minerals typical of meteorites,
namely of chondrites. The researchers also found grains of
nickel-containing pyrite and particles of ferriferous compounds.
The spherules’ shape and peculiarities of their structure do not
contradict the version that they could drop out of the dust
ablative trace of meteoroid. Substances contained in the
spherules can hardly be related to the rock substance in the
Mamsko-Chuisk region. Since no fragments of the Vitim meteoroid
have been found so far, these spherulesare are now the single
probable evidence of its material composition.
Nevertheless, the researchers have not given up hopes for
finding fragments of the Vitim meteoroid. Probably, the bulk of
its fragments dropped out either farther along the trajectory
(if the US satellite erroneously determined altitudes of two
points in the falling route) or aside from the calculated path
(if the two points’ position data was identified mistakenly)."
This information has been sourced from
www.innovations-report.com and all credit goes to them and the
writers of the above article.
Detection of Infrasound from the Vitim
on September 24, 2002
O. I. Shumilov, E. A. Kasatkina, E. D. Tereshchenko,
S. N. Kulichkov, and A. N. Vasil’ev
Excerpt: "An infrasonic signal from an
atmospheric bolide explosion was detected on September 24, 2002
near the Vitim river, Irkutsk region (57.9 N, 112.9 E). The
signal was detected by three spatially separated microbarographs
of the Polar Geophysical Institute (PGI), Kola Science Center,
Russian Academy of Sciences, Apatity (67.6 N, 33 E) at a
distance of 4000 km from the source. The acoustic-gravity signal
from a falling meteorite at highlatitudes was detected at such a
distance for the first time in Russia. ©2003 MAIK “Nauka/Interperiodica”."
The full abstract is available to download here in PDF format.
INFRASOUND FROM THE SEPTEMBER 24 2002
VITIM (SIBERIAN) FIREBALL
O.I. Shumilov, E.A.
Kasatkina, E.D. Tereshchenko, S.N. Kulichkov,
O.M. Raspopov, A.N. Vasiljev and A.G. Struev
The full brief is available to download here in PDF format.
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