Updated: 9:10AM 2/15/13
A nine-tonne meteor streaked across the sky above Russia’s Ural Mountains Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and injuring hundreds, possibly nearly a thousand people. An even bigger chunk of space rock about the size of a jet plane is set to zip between the Earth and our weather satellites on Friday afternoon, and while NASA says we’re not in any danger of a catastrophic collision, it’s hard not to wonder what would happen if we were.
[learn_more caption=”Meteor, meteoroid, or meteorite?”] Small pieces of space debris — usually parts of comets or asteroids — that are on a collision course with the Earth are called meteoroids. When meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere they are called meteors. Most meteors burn up in the atmosphere, but if they survive the frictional heating and strike the surface of the Earth they are called meteorites.[/learn_more]
Meteors typically cause sizeable sonic booms when they enter the atmosphere because they are traveling much faster than the speed of sound. Injuries on the scale reported Friday in Russia, however, are extraordinarily rare.
Asteroid 2012 DA14, due to make its closest approach to Earth around 11:24 a.m.PST today, won’t enter the planet’s atmosphere. But it’s predicted that the 45-metre diameter, 130,000-tonne asteroid will pass closer to Earth than any object its size has come in decades.
At its closest point it will be 27,700 kilometres (17,400 Miles) from the planet’s surface — a mere tenth of the distance between the Earth and the moon.
At that time, it will be zooming by at about 28,100 kilometres per hour or 7.82 kilometres per second relative to Earth. Thats about 8 MILES per second..
“It’s a record close approach,” said Robert Cockcroft, manager of McMaster’s WJ McCallion Planetarium. “An object of this size gets this close only once every 40 years or so.”
DA14 was discovered in February of 2012 and has been tracked since then. The asteroid’s orbit is so well known that “there’s no chance of a collision,” said Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near Earth Object Office.
Nor is it likely to hit any satellites. It’s too close to Earth to collide with the geosynchronous satellites, but a lot further out than the bulk of Earth’s orbiting satellites, including the International Space Station, which is located 386 kilometres above the surface.
NASA estimates that asteroids this size fly this close to the Earth about once every 40 years and hit the planet roughly once every 1,200 years. The last time it happened was on June 30, 1908, when a meteorite crashed in Tunguska, Russia.
North Americans won’t be able to see asteroid DA14, Cockroft says, as it’s set to sail over the Indonesian region. Even there it won’t be possible to see it with the naked eye, but amateur astronomers do have a shot at spotting the asteroid with a telescope — though the object’s rapid speed could make that a difficult task, Cockcroft said.
The incident was caused by a bolide, officials said. Multiple dashboard videos appeared online, showing huge fireballs flying over buildings and exploding with a strong blast as the meteriote broke into pieces mid-air. A local zinc factory was the worst-hit, with some of its walls collapsed.
16:35 GMT: The Emergency Ministry has since denied sending out SMS warnings about the meteor shower in the Chelyabinsk region. The ministry added that informing residents started after the incident and the spokesperson who spread the false information on the incident was fired.
16:19 GMT: The fireball that hit Russia’s Urals is the largest rock to strike the planet since 1908, Nature Magazine says. The blast was even more powerful than North Korea’s recent nuclear test, added the UK journal. Unlike the Russian Academy of Science, it estimated that the mass of the fireball was around 40 tons before it entered the atmosphere. Russian scientists put the mass at 10 tons.
15:55 GMT: Two hockey matches in the city of Chelyabinsk were cancelled after a wall at the city’s ice arena was damaged by a piece of meteorite.
15:42 GMT: NASA said that the Chelyabinsk fireball had nothing to do with the approaching 2012 DA14 asteroid, as some scientists had previously suggested.
“The trajectory of the Russian meteorite was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, making it a completely unrelated object,” the space agency said on its website. “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.”
15:28 GMT: The Russian Academy of Science now estimates the meteorite had a mass of around 10 tons before it entered Earth’s atmosphere, and began disintegrating at an altitude of between 30 and 50 kilometers.
15:01 GMT: Around 1,000 people have sustained injuries in Chelyabinsk due to the meteorite strike, says the Emergencies Ministry. 159 of them are children.
13:20 GMT: The number of people injured in the meteorite blast has risen to 950, Governor of Chelyabinsk Region Mikhail Yurevitch said.
13:10 GMT: Roscosmos said they did not track the meteorite that fell near Chelyabinsk. “Our ground facilities and, as I understand, those abroad too did not the monitor this celestial body,” the agency spokesman said.
13:02 GMT: Nearly 3,000 buildings in Chelyabinsk were damaged to varying extents by the meteor shower, including 34 medical facilities and 361 schools and kindergartens, the city administration’s website reported. The total amount of window glass shattered amounts to 100,000 square meters, the site said, citing city administration head Sergey Davydov.
12:52 GMT: The meteorite’s combustion products won’t stay in the atmosphere for long, and will soon come down with the rain, Russian scientists said. The 50-ton meteorite is believed to have caused no radioactive or chemical pollution.
12:49 GMT: There’s practically “no chance” such incident could happen in the region again, the Russian Academy of Sciences said. Roshydromet monitoring systems have detected flybys of several meteorites overnight and in the morning.
A hole in Chebarkul Lake made by meteorite debris. Photo by Chebarkul town head Andrey Orlov.
12:38 GMT: First images of the crater from the meteorite fall appear online.
12:24 GMT: The military had nothing to do with the aerial meteorite explosion, the Urals Emergency Ministry said: “Russia’s defense ministry took no action connected to the incident. No aircrafts has been registered in the air at the given period of time.” Earlier, there were unconfirmed reports that the military had shot down the falling meteorite, shattering it into pieces.
12:21 GMT: Vladimir Puchkov, the head of the Russian Emergency Ministry, is flying to Chelyabinsk to hold an emergency meeting with regional governor Mikhail Yurevich concerning the meteor shower incident, which injured over 725 people.
Weather sattelite Meteosat 10 has taken an image of the meteriote shortly after entering the atmosphere.(Copyright 2013 © EUMETSAT)
12:05 GMT: Six cities and four small towns saw damage from the air blast produced by the meteorite, mostly shattered windows, Itar-Tass reported, citing police officials.
12:01 GMT: The site where the meteorite is believed to have fallen has been closed off by military units wearing special protective suits.
12:00 GMT: Three municipalities of the Chelyabinsk region have declared a state of emergency. “8 out of 43 municipalities have considerably suffered from the fall of space debris, 3 are in state of emergency,” Emergency Ministry spokesperson Igor Murog said.
11:42 GMT: A phone hotline has been launched for Chelyabinsk residents seeking psychological care.
11:40 GMT: Two people injured in the meteorite incident are in intensive care, RIA Novosti reported, citing Chelyabinsk officials.
11:36 GMT: Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the country’s Emergency Ministry to evaluate the damage caused by the meteorite incident, and to provide victims with all necessary aid. He said that the “astronomic aspect of the incident” is of particular interest, because analysis of the Chelyabinsk meteorite fall could help prevent future such incidents and alert residents in advance.
11:33 GMT: At least 297 apartment buildings were damaged from the meteorite fall in the Chelyabinsk region, an Emergency Ministry spokesperson told Russia 24 TV.
11:30 GMT: Parts of the Chelyabinsk meteorite are ‘on sale’ on some Russian websites. “Will sell meteorite pieces cheap, photos later,” an announcement read.
11:19 GMT: The Russian military has explored a meteorite crater that is reportedly 6 meters in diameter; normal radiation levels were detected at the site.
11:12 GMT: Nearly 725 people have requested medical assistance in regions hit by the meteor shower.
11:10 GMT: The meteorite blast in the Chelyabinsk region may be connected to the 2012DA14 asteroid, which will pass close to Earth tonight, Tatyana Borisevich from Pulkovo Observatory told Itar-Tass.
11:00 GMT: Gas has been shut off in hundreds of Chelyabinsk homes after a security system shut it down due to the explosion.
10:55 GMT: The meteorite explosion sent animals in the Chelyabinsk zoo into a panic. Wolves and horses were reportedly the most agitated, but have now been calmed.
10:46 GMT: The meteorite has stirred up the Twitter community, becoming one of the most-discussed topics and prompting the creation of several parody accounts. More than 10 different Twitter accounts have been already registered for the meteorite that hit the Russian Urals. “So where can I go here on Friday night? Except for the factory?”one of the accounts said.
This amazing video records the explosion and impact of the meteor.
ON the eve of the closest Astroid flyby in recorded history a series of explosions in the skies of Russia’s Urals region, reportedly caused by a meteorite shower, has sparked panic in three major cities. Witnesses said that houses shuddered, windows were blown out and cellphones have stopped working.
According to unconfirmed reports, the meteorite was intercepted by an air defense unit at the Urzhumka settlement near Chelyabinsk. A missile salvo reportedly blew the meteorite to pieces at an altitude of 20 kilometers. It is unreported at this time the original size of the object.
[box] A meteorite is a solid piece of debris from space objects such as asteroids or comets, ranging in size from tiny to gigantic.
When a meteorite falls on Earth, passing through the atmosphere causes it to heat up and emit a trail of light, forming a fireball known as a meteor, or shooting or falling star.[/box]
A bright flash was seen in the Chelyabinsk, Tyumen and Sverdlovsk regions, Russia’s Republic of Bashkiria and in northern Kazakhstan.
Lifenews tabloid said that at least one piece of the fallen object caused damage on the ground in Chelyabinsk. According to preliminary reports, it crashed into a wall near a zinc factory, disrupting the city’s Internet and mobile service.
The Emergency Ministry reported that 20,000 rescue workers are operating in the region. Three aircraft were deployed to survey the area and locate other possible impact locations.
Witnesses said the explosion was so loud that it seemed like an earthquake and thunder had struck at the same time, and that there were huge trails of smoke across the sky. Others reported seeing burning objects fall to earth.
Amazing Footage coming from RT and YouTube of the inbound object.
Reports conflicted on what exactly happened in the clear skies. A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told The Associated Press that there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteorite.
Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time (0320 GMT), leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.
Continue Reading at Associated Press. Click Here
Meanwhile in Portland Oregon Clyde Lewis of Ground Zero Radio broke the news to his listeners and via his facebook page nearly 1.5 hours before other US news agencies started to release the information. live on the air as the event started to be reported around the world. Citing the possible connection to tomorrow arrival of Astroid 2012 DA14 which will Flyby the earth at, Clyde started his show early in the evening talking about the possible miscalculation that in theory could cause a catastrophic even such as the Tunguska event
“The asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly extremely close to Earth on Friday, Feb. 15, but poses no risk of impacting our planet. It may, however, be visible in backyard telescopes if you know when and where to look, but will be a stargazing challenge, NASA says.” – Space.com
More amazing videos of the aftermath
The Russian Urals region has been stricken by a sudden cosmic attack. Unidentified flying objects exploded over several major cities, including Chelyabinsk, where the blast waves blew out windows and disrupted mobile connections.
The Emergency Ministry said the incident was caused by a shower of meteorite debris. Unconfirmed reports suggested that a meteorite was shot down by Russian air defenses. Multiple dashboard videos appeared online, showing huge fireballs flying over buildings and exploding with a strong blast. A local zinc factory was the worst-hit, with some of its walls collapsed.
7:46 GMT: Ekaterinburg’s observatory has officially deemed the incident a fireball meteor shower. No evacuations were called for, and radiation levels were determined to be normal.
7:40 GMT: Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Twitter that he will offer suggestions to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on how to prevent or mitigate meteorite damage in future.
7:30 GMT: The number of people seeking medical attention has risen to 150.
Broken windows and debris are seen inside a sports hall following sightings of a falling object in the sky in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013.(Reuters / OOO Spetszakaz)
Photo from znak.com
Screenshot from YouTube user kinomanfilms