Above is a picture of the impact site in Russia where today a large meteor hit leaving many injured and several questions unanswered. We were just lucky this time that the meteor was one of the smaller ones that travel by earth. With a flash and a booming shock wave, a meteor over Russia’s Ural Mountains Friday exploded with the force of an atomic bomb injuring 1,000 people as it blasted windows and caused panic in Chelyabinsk, a city of 1 million. NASA estimates the size to be that of a bus and weighing 7,000 tons. Videos of the dramatic fireball over the city show streaming contrails arcing toward the horizon just after sunrise. The meteor came just after a 150 foot asteroid passed within 17,000 miles of Earth. The European Space Agency do not believe the two are connected just coincidence.
The meteor enter the atmosphere at 9:20 am local time at 33,000 mph and broke into pieces about 18-32 in the sky according to The Russian Academy of Science. NASA said that the energy released was in hundreds of kilotons. The shock wave from the blast blew in 1 million square feet of glass according to city officials and 3,000 buildings in Chelyabinsk were damaged. Most of the injuries were from flying glass as an estimated 1,100 people sought medical attentions and 48 were hospitalized. There no immediate words on deaths or anyone struck by fragments of the meteor.
President Vladimir Putin summoned the nation’s emergency minister and ordered repairs. Some fragments fell into a reservoir outside the town of Chebarkul according to the Interior Ministry leaving a 26 foot hole in the ice. Injury from the sonic booms when meteors enter the atmosphere are extraordinarily rare. The many broken windows leave residents exposed to the cold as temperatures are expected to drop to minus 20 degrees Celsius or minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit overnight. The regional governor has asked anyone who can repair windows please help. Social media including Twitter was flooded with videos from dashboard cameras that Russians mount on their cars in case of corrupt traffic police or accident disputes. Strong reactions from many prominent Russian leaders also surfaced calling for more research and funding from World Powers to come up with a way to prevent falling space objects from causing devastation. NASA said the fireball was the largest since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia about 3,000 miles away from Chelyabinsk and destroyed 80 million trees.
The 150 foot space rock that passed Earth on Friday was dubbed Asteroid 2012 DA14. The asteroid was invisible to U.S. astronomers, but Australian astronomers used binoculars and telescopes to watch it across the night sky. According to Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science, called the event rare and historic since usually the fireballs are not seen because they fall over oceans or remote areas.
The Russian meteor could of led to a serious problem in the area hosting nuclear and chemical weapons disposal facilities. The meteor struck only 60 miles from the Mayak nuclear storage and disposal facility where dozens of tons of weapons grade plutonium is held noted Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia. A chemical weapons disposal facility at Shchuchye also has 6,000 tons of nerve agents including sarin and VX about 14 percent of the chemical weapons Russia has committed to destroy.
According to the Huffington Post article, one of the most popular jokes was that the meteorite was supposed to fall on Dec. 21, 2012 – when many believed the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world – but was delivered late by Russia’s notoriously inefficient postal service.