Russia Meteor Was Largest in More Than a Century
The meteor that crashed to earth in Russia was about 55 feet in diameter, weighed around 10,000 tons and was made from a stony material, scientists said, making it the largest such object to hit the Earth in more than a century.
Large pieces of the meteor have yet to be found. However, a team from the Urals Federal University, which is based in Yekaterinburg, collected 53 fragments, the largest of which was 7 millimeters, according to Viktor Grokhovsky, a scientist at the university.
Data from a global network of sensors indicated that the disintegration of the Russia fireball unleashed nearly 500 kilotons of energy, more than 30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
It is the largest reported meteor since the one that hit Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The agency’s new gauge of the meteor’s size was a marked increase from its initial estimate.
“We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years,” said Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, in a statement. “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.”
When a meteor lands, researchers can get a better fix about its size and composition by studying isotopes found in the fragments. But the pieces need to be found quickly because the isotopes last for only days or weeks.