So while everyone was worried about the asteroid that we knew was going to give us a close shave today, there was a second one, a meteorite, that no one saw coming that exploded over central Russia’s Ural Mountains today.
This is nuts.
A meteorite has just exploded over Russia. This doesn’t feel good when you know that a 150-foot asteroid is about to fly by Earth—and you read about the actual effects of an impact if astronomers’ calculations are wrong. The Guardian is reporting that 474 people have been injured.
More likely, the meteor exploded before hitting the ground because of the enormous heat generated by the compression of air in front of the meteor or asteroid. This phenomenon is called asteroid airburst or bolide.
According to witnesses, cellphones stopped working and windows were blown out as the meteor exploded in the air. Some reports are suggesting that the event smashed windows as far as 125 miles from the point of impact. You can hear windows being obliterated in some of the videos.
Latest update: The Russian Academy of Sciences has estimated that the meteorite weighed about 10 tons and entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000 mph, shattering about 18-32 miles above ground.
Fortunately, Congress is going to get involved. That should make things better.
This is a compilation of clips, but if you want to hear what it sounded like when it exploded, go to :15
What’s the difference between an asteroid and a meteor? Not much.
UPDATE 2/16 via MSNBC
The new estimates, based on additional readings from a sensor network built to detect nuclear blasts, suggest the meteor released the energy equivalent of nearly 500 kilotons of TNT. That’s about 30 times the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
NASA now says the Chelyabinsk object must have been about 55 feet wide (17 meters wide) with a mass of 10,000 tons before it entered Earth’s atmosphere.
animated gif via Gawker