Every year, a few metre-sized meteoroids impact the atmosphere of the Earth. Most (if not all) of them are undetectable before the impact. Therefore, predicting where and how they will fall seems to be an impossible task. In this letter, we show compelling evidence that we can constrain in advance, the dynamical and geometrical conditions of an impact. For this purpose, we analyse the well-documented case of the Chelyabinsk (Russia) impact and the more recent and smaller Viñales (Cuba) event, whose conditions we estimate and provide here. After using the Gravitational Ray Tracing (GRT) algorithm to `predict' the impact conditions of the aforementioned events, we find that the speed, incoming direction, and (marginally) the orbital elements of the corresponding meteoroids could be constrained in advance, starting only on one hand, with the geographical location and time of the impact, and on the other hand, with the distribution in configuration space of near-Earth objects (NEOs). Any improvement in our capability to predict or at least to constrain impact properties of medium-sized and large meteoroids will help us to be better prepared for its potentially damaging effects.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- June 2019
- methods: numerical;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 5 pages, 3 figures (5 pages and 4 figures of supplementary material). All data and software available in https://github.com/seap-udea/MeteorTrajectories. Accepted for publication in MNRAS Letters