Meteor explodes over Russia, almost 1,000 injured

Feb 15, 2013 | Biz/Tech

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By Brandon Humber

The explosion of a meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia has left nearly 1,000 people injured.

Early estimates of the meteor’s original size have it weighing around 10 tonnes.

The explosion sent meteorite’s hurdling to the ground and reportedly released several kilotons of energy, shattering thousands of windows in the region.

Chelyabinsk resident Sergey Hametov told the Associated Press that the bright flash and explosion of the meteor caused panic in the city.

“We saw a big burst of light, then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud, thundering sound,” he said.

According to Professor Charles Bolton of the University of Toronto’s astronomy and astrophysics department, although meteor explosions above Earth aren’t a totally uncommon event, an explosion of this magnitude in a populated area, causing so many injuries, is very rare.

“You’ve got a less than roughly one-in-four chance that it’s going to hit land, and then you’ve got a very small chance it’s going to hit a populated area,” Bolton said.

The incident has drawn comparisons to the Tunguska event, which occurred roughly 5,000 kilometers east of Chelyabinsk, in 1908.

Bolton said that Tunguska was most likely a small comet, rather than a meteor, and that the area was generally unpopulated.

Meteors are just pieces of comets and asteroids that enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up.

Coincidentally, an asteroid is set to pass by the Earth later Friday, but NASA scientists have determined that the two occurrences are unrelated.

“In videos of the meteor, it is seen to pass from left to right in front of the rising sun, which means it was traveling from north to south. Asteroid DA14’s trajectory is in the opposite direction, from south to north,” a statement released on the NASA’s website read.