Meteor Explodes Over Russia With Force Rivaling Nuclear Bomb

Our dangerous solar system
Science • Views: 15,265

After cruising through space for who knows how many millennia, a chunk of rock about 15 meters across plunged into Earth’s atmosphere above the Russian region of Chelyabinsk today and exploded with a force rivaling a nuclear blast, injuring at least 700 people with its shockwave: Russian Meteor Largest in a Century.

A meteor that exploded over Russia this morning was the largest recorded object to strike the Earth in more than a century, scientists say. Infrasound data collected by a network designed to watch for nuclear weapons testing suggests that today’s blast released hundreds of kilotonnes of energy. That would make it far more powerful than the nuclear weapon tested by North Korea just days ago and the largest rock crashing on the planet since a meteor broke up over Siberia’s Tunguska river in 1908.

“It was a very, very powerful event,” says Margaret Campbell-Brown, an astronomer at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, who has studied data from two infrasound stations near the impact site. Her calculations show that the meteoroid was approximately 15 metres across when it entered the atmosphere, and put its mass at around 40 tonnes. “That would make it the biggest object recorded to hit the Earth since Tunguska,” she says.

The meteor appeared at around 09:25 a.m. local time over the region of Chelyabinsk, near the southern Ural Mountains. The fireball blinded drivers and a subsequent explosion blew out windows and damaged hundreds of buildings. So far, more than 700 people are reported to have been injured, mainly from broken glass, according to a statement from the Russian Emergency Ministry.

The unsettling part of the story is that nobody saw it coming — and we probably won’t see the next one either.

Despite its massive size, the object went undetected until it hit the atmosphere. “I’m not aware of anyone who saw this coming,” says Heiner Klinkrad, head of the European Space Agency’s space debris office at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. Although a network of telescopes watches for asteroids that might strike Earth, it is geared towards spotting larger objects — between 100 metres and a kilometre in size.

“Objects like that are nearly impossible to see until a day or two before impact,” says Timothy Spahr, Director of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which tracks asteroids and small bodies. So far as he knows, he says, his centre also failed to spot the approaching rock.

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds Tweet

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Recent PagesClick to refresh
Kellyanne Conway Finally Admits the Audit Was Just an Excuse Speaking on ABC News’ Sunday morning show This Week, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway finally admitted what had been plainly obvious to anyone paying attention — Donald Trump is never going to voluntarily release his tax returns, so the ...
Birth Control Works
6 hours, 17 minutes ago
Views: 149 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 2
Comments: 0
: 2
The Women’s March Succeeded Because It Spoke to Women’s Outrage  was so wrong about the pussy hats. When I first heard that crafty women were knitting them by the thousands I thought, What a colossal waste of time, energy, and money—and besides, pink? Please. Cute and adorable is ...
Birth Control Works
6 hours, 20 minutes ago
Views: 108 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Donald Trump Signs Anti-Abortion Executive Order Surrounded by Men Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, which was first put in place by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It prohibits giving U.S. funding to international nongovernmental organizations that offer or advise on ...
Birth Control Works
6 hours, 21 minutes ago
Views: 422 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Former Executive Director of Anti-Immigrant Hate Group FAIR Joins Trump Administration Kirchner worked at America’s most influential anti-immigrant organization for almost ten years before leaving in 2015 to become an immigration advisor to the Trump campaign. The appointment, reported by multiple sources, suggests that President Trump intends to follow through ...
Tarkloon
6 hours, 29 minutes ago
Views: 89 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Supreme Court Won’t Hear Appeal From Texas on Voter ID Case WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court rejected on Monday an appeal from Texas officials seeking to restore the state’s strict voter ID law. As is the court’s custom, its brief order in the case, Abbott v. Veasey, No. 16-393, gave ...
Tarkloon
14 hours, 4 minutes ago
Views: 141 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
National Pie Day Peach Pie Recipe - NYT Cooking Pie to Impeach By Ingredients For the pastry: 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon salt ⅔ cup cold lard (Allard usually uses 3 tablespoons of butter as part of the lard) [VB uses Crisco] ¼ cup ice water For the filling: 4 to 6 ...
The Vicious Babushka
19 hours, 7 minutes ago
Views: 213 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 4 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
It’s National Pie Day! Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe - NYT Cooking Ingredients The filling: 1 9-inch pie shell 1 ½ cups sugar ⅓ cup cornstarch 1 ½ cups boiling water 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten 4 tablespoons lemon juice 1 ½ tablespoons grated lemon rind 3 tablespoons butter The meringue: ...
The Vicious Babushka
19 hours, 20 minutes ago
Views: 180 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
He Shot the Trump Inauguration Protests and Got More Than He Bargained For I couldn’t get a good shot, but there was a sign I was able to sit on that put me about 8 feet up. I took a few shots, and then a group of maybe four or five Trump ...
Unshaken Defiance
1 day, 14 hours ago
Views: 614 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 4
Tweets: 2 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Women’s Marches: More Than One Million Protesters Vow to Resist President Trump More than 1 million people gathered in Washington and in cities around the country and the world Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of President Trump. What started as a Facebook post by a Hawaii retiree ...
Tarkloon
1 day, 20 hours ago
Views: 467 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 6 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1
The All-American Rejects - Top of the WorldMusic video by The All-American Rejects performing Top Of The World. (C) 2006 Interscope Records
Tarkloon
2 days, 5 hours ago
Views: 154 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0