Meteor of the century crashes into Russia

A meteor crashed to Earth on Friday over Russia’s Ural Mountains, and ended its descent in a flaming formidable blast that injured around 1,000 people.

According to CNN.com, Chelyabinsk, the nearest hard-hit city, experienced the most damages from the sonic waves. Shattered glass exploded out of window frames as several walls tumbled down and car alarms rang through the city.

In total, more than 4,000 buildings were damaged and 77,220 square miles of glass were broken, according to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

But the magnitude of this meteor was much more serious and powerful than a few shards of glass and crumbling brick walls.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a series of different data points collected from a global network of instruments indicated that the meteor’s explosive descent unleashed nearly 500 kilotons of energy. This statistic may sound like an arbitrary scientific statistic, but bear in mind that this meteor released more than 30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

According to NASA, this menacing object from space is the largest reported meteor since the meteor that hit Tunguska, Siberia in 1908.

While this powerful ball of destruction sent quite a shock through the system of Chelyabinsk’s inhabitants, one scientist treats this incident as a relatively routine occurrence.

“We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years,” Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office said to The Wall Street Journal. “When you have a fireball of this size we would expect a large number of meteorites to reach the surface, and in this case, there were probably some large ones.”

What was unique about this meteor was the actual size of the rock and the number of injuries it caused. According to The Wall Street Journal, the meteor was about 55 feet in diameter, weighed around 10,000 tons and was made up of stony material. The fact that around 1,000 people were injured from the meteor crash is completely shocking.

“There have been reports of one or two people being injured in the past. This is entirely unprecedented,” Keith Smith, an astronomer at Britain’s Royal Astronomical Society, told The Wall Street Journal.

Smith also stated that there was no connection between the meteor event in Russia and the 130,000-ton asteroid that passed about 17,000 miles from Earth on Friday.

Asteroids are relatively small pieces of rock that move around the sun in space. A meteoroid is smaller than an asteroid but also goes around the sun. A meteor is what we see when a meteoroid burns up as it soars through the atmosphere. Most commonly this light phenomenon is referred to as a “shooting star.” A meteorite is a meteoroid that survives its atmosphere plunge and lands on earth.

As government officials in Chelyabinsk have been quick to bring the city back to normalcy, local officials have estimated the damage at more than $33 million, according to RIA Novosti. The ITAR-TASS news agency reported that Chelyabinsk governor, Mikhail Yurevich, ensured compensation to all those affected.

 

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