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Meteor Hits Russia, Asteroid Appoaches

15 Feb 2013, 1:07 pm

Chelyabinsk, Russia Struck By Meteor

A shocking start to the day in Chelyabinsk, Russia today as a meteor crashed into the earth’s surface at 9:20 local time.

Chelyabinsk, Russia, a city home to over a million people, is about 1000 miles to the east of Moscow.

Photo from CBS News: A meteorite contrail is seen over Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15, 2013.

From the AP:  A handout photo provided by Chelyabinsk region police department shows people standing near a 20-foot hole in the ice of a frozen lake, reportedly the site of a meteor fall, outside Chebakul, Russia.

From FoxNews: “The meteor — estimated to be about 10 tons — entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 33,000 mph and shattered about 18-32 miles above the ground, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement. It released the energy of several kilotons above the Chelyabinsk region, the academy said.”

It resulted in almost a thousand injuries, hundreds of damaged buildings, and widespread panic.

From the BBC:”Chelyabinsk resident Sergei Serskov told BBC News the city had felt like a “war zone” for 20 to 30 minutes. “I was in the office when suddenly I saw a really bright flash in the window in front of me,” he said. “Then I smelt fumes. I looked out the window and saw a huge line of smoke, like you get from a plane but many times bigger.” “A few minutes later the window suddenly came open and there was a huge explosion, followed by lots of little explosions.” In Yekaterinburg, 36-year-old resident Viktor Prokofiev was driving to work when he witnessed the event. “It was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.”

Record Near Miss from Astroid Today

In what is still thought to be a completely unrelated incident, an asteroid will be coming dangerously close to Earth today.

From CNN: “Information is still being collected about the Russian meteorite, and analysis is preliminary at this point,”according to the NASA 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.”

NASA scientists have assured us that it will not be colliding into our planet.  Map of path of the asteroid:

Path of asteroid as plotted by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

From the ABC News: “At 2:25 p.m. ET it is expected to pass 17,220 miles from us, flying from south to north in a path that brings it closer than the geosynchronous satellites we use for communications and many weather observations.”

What’s the difference between an Asteroid, Meteor, and a Meteorite?

All these terms for space rocks are being thrown around today with these two incidents.  Here’s animation describing the difference.  As an object is flying through the sky it is a meteor and it becomes classified as a meteorite after it collides with the earth’s surface.

From CNN:

According to NASA, here’s how you tell what kind of object is falling from the sky:

Asteroids are relatively small, inactive rocky bodies that orbit the sun.

Comets are also relatively small, and have ice on them that can vaporize in sunlight. This process forms an atmosphere and dust and gas; you might also see a “tail’ of dust or gas.

Meteoroids are small particles from comets or asteroids, orbiting the sun.

Meteors are meteoroids that enter the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporize, also known as shooting stars.

Meteorites are meteoroids that actually land on the Earth’s surface.

Check back here for more space weather updates through the weekend.

Gretchen Mishek

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