Popular Science/Impacts and EMPs


 Why did the meteor that exploded in the atmosphere over russia last week not create an EMP?
Thank YOu

Hi Jill,
How do we know it didn't, for about one billionth billionth of a second?
Besides, EMP's are a relatively new idea, whereas meteors are billions of years old, so they don't know as yet that they are supposed to produce EMP's.  (Just joking with you, of course).
From my meager understanding of EMP's, they are allegedly produced from the high temperature, high energy, high mass... of a large nuclear explosion nearby, by disturbing the Earth's weak magnetic field and surrounding electrical field currents.
This very small 10 meter airburst some 20-30 miles high obviously did not have the high temperature, the high energy, nor the high mass required for such an EMP disturbance. As evidence, the shock wave striking the ground only produced minor damage... broken window glass, a few weak walls of buildings, etc. with nobody dead, and in fact no one hurt from the meteorite itself. (All injuries from my understanding actually came from the falling glass and building material!)

So technically, compared to say, a 100 megaton nuclear weapon, this was a peanut event.  10 meter (33 feet)) objects come in about once every couple of years, but most are over open oceans or remote land masses, so usually go undetected and unseen. (Except for our classified
infrared detection military satellites in orbit).
So this event will eventually become a small footnote in the overall total historical record of meteorite events of the past 50,000 years.
Clear Skies,
Tom Whiting
Erie, PA USA  

Popular Science

All Answers

Ask Experts


Tom Whiting


I can answer most questions involving general science and engineering, except those involving electronics and computers.  My strong points are all the Earth Sciences, especially Meteorology and Astronomy, and any related subjects to Astronomy.  My weak point is Electronics Technology.   No astrology questions please, or questions about alleged UFO identifications.


My hobby has been Astronomy for over 50 years. I currently ownand use a 30 inch portable telescope.   I taught at the University Level for 13 years.  My personal interest in life, in general,  has always been science oriented.

President - Erie County Mobile Observers Group for over 15 years.Member of allexperts.com astronomy catagory for over 8 years.

Astronomy Technology TodayErie Times Newspaper - I wrote the "Over Erie Skies" columnfor 11 years.

BS  Metallurgical Engineering Grove City College, PAMaster's Degree, Gannon University, Erie, PAAlso retired USAF pilot, 20 years.

Awards and Honors
I was the discoverer of the Mini-Coathanger Asterism up in Ursa Minor.  I earned 6 Air Medals with USAF and retired after 20 years of service with the rank of Major, with over 2100 hours flying time.I also earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1956.

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.