Russian Meteors and Near Earth Asteroids

Posted by Kelly on February 15th, 2013

Perhaps it’s because Russia is the biggest country on Earth, or perhaps meteors just look at it from above and find it might be a nice place to visit, but another meteor has exploded over the skies of Russia.

On the morning of February 15, 2013, a meteor estimated at 1 meter across and 10 tons, barreling into Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 54,000 kph, is believed to have exploded above the Ural Mountains of Russia, 29 to 51 kilometers above the ground, according to the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Hundreds of people were injured when they rushed to their windows in the cold winter morning to watch the meteor’s amazing light show. Moments after the meteor’s entry, a shockwave or sonic boom burst windows across the area, spraying observers with glass.

The event is remarkable and nearly unprecedented in human history. One other well-known event of a meteor entering Earth’s atmosphere and exploding, flattening acres of forestland, also occurred in Russia in 1908. In that incident, known as the Tunguska Event, no one was recorded as being injured.

For those Russians who had been following space news and witnessed the event on the morning of February 15, it would be understandable for them to believe that the scientists had mistimed the coming closest approach of Asteroid 2012 DA14. This asteroid is slated to come as close as 27,700 kilometers to Earth at 19:30 UT on February 15, without any chance of impacting the planet. But the meteor was not the same as Asteroid 2012 DA14, nor was it related to it in any way. It approached Earth from a completely different direction and is merely an odd coincidence that the two occur on the same day.

After seeing and reading about the effects of the 1-meter, 10-ton meteor, compare that to the asteroid that is looming above us on this same date. Asteroid 2012 DA14 is 45 meters wide and 130,000 tons. Had this actually been the space rock that exploded above Russia today, the effect would have been much more serious.

The asteroid Apophis is also expected to come as close to Earth in the year 2029 as Asteroid 2012 DA14 gets on February 15, 2013. And while an impact from Asteroid 2012 DA14 would make the meteor that exploded over the Ural Mountains look insignificant, an impact from Apophis would make Asteroid 2012 DA14 seem like nothing. That’s because Apophis is about 325 meters across and its weight estimates have come in at around 20 million tons. Apophis is also not expected to impact Earth.

3 people have commented

Phil said,

Estimates of the meteor’s mass are wildly divergent. Early reports said 10 tons; later reports via NASA range between 7,000 to 10,000 tons. Velocity figures also vary, though over a smaller range.

This results in released energy figures anywhere between 250 tons TNT and 500 kilotons TNT!

Pamuditha said,

It means 2012 Da 14 is 20 to 30 times powerful than Hiroshima bomb.. people in Chelyabinsk are so lucky,because if that asteroid exploded in lower atmosphere damage would be much more higher than expected.

Enticed by Art | Russian Meteor said,

[…] has hit Russia sending a powerful shockwave through the region and injuring many unsuspecting people. The country seems to be a magnet for meteors and they were lucky a second meteor didn?t hit the […]

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