The meteor that caused at least 1,000 injuries in Russia after a startling and powerful daytime explosion one week ago has been identified as a chondrite. Russian scientists who analyzed fragments of the meteor, whose large size and well-documented impact made it a rarity, say that its composition makes it the most common type of meteor we encounter here on Earth.
“The fragments contain a standard number of minerals, including olivine, pyroxene, troilite and kamacite,” scientist Viktor Grokhovsky of the Urals Federal University, told the Voice of Russia. “These minerals that can be discovered only in outer space confirm the fragments’ extraterrestrial nature.”
That means that before it shattered windows in the city of Chelyabinsk and turned people around the world into gawkers fascinated by a calamity — and by the amazing video footage of it — the meteor spent billions of years traveling through space.
When it detonated over Russia, the explosion was powerful enough to be “detected by 17 nuclear monitoring stations around the globe,” as The Christian Science Monitor reports.
The meteor, which may have weighed as much as 10,000 tons and measured about 55 feet across, was traveling at an estimated 11 miles per second when it reached Earth, according to a report at io9.
The first firm details of the 15 February asteroid impact in Russia, the largest in more than a century, are becoming clear. ESA is carefully assessing the information as crucial input for developing the Agency’s asteroid-hunting effort.
At 03:20 GMT on 15 February, a natural object entered the atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Extensive video records indicate a northeast to southwest path at a shallow angle of 20° above the horizontal. The entry speed is estimated at around 18 km/s - more than 64 000 km/h.
According to calculations by Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, drawing on extremely low-frequency sound waves detected by a global network, the object is estimated to have been about 17 m across with a mass of 7000-10 000 tonnes when it hit atmosphere.
It exploded with a force of nearly 500 kilotons of TNT - some 30 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb - around 15-20 km above the ground.
With our current understanding of near-Earth objects, events of this magnitude are expected once every several of tens to 100 years.
A day after a spectacular meteor blast shook Russia’s Urals region, the clean-up operation got under way Saturday in the hard-hit Russian city of Chelyabinsk.
Although some buildings were unscathed when the sonic waves from the Friday morning explosion reverberated through the city and region, others lost some or most windows.
More than 1,000 people were injured, including more than 200 children, the news agency said. Many of them were hit by flying glass.
Most of those hurt are in the Chelyabinsk region, though the vast majority of injuries are not thought to be serious.
Altogether, more than 4,000 buildings, mostly apartment blocks, were damaged and 200,000 square kilometers (77,220 square miles) of glass were broken, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited the Chelyabinsk regional emergencies ministry as saying Saturday.
A meteorite exploded and impacted just west of the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, blowing out windows throughout the city and causing an impact crater about six meters (20 feet) in diameter. There was also apparently structural damage caused to a zinc factory as well when a small fragment struck it.
Russia’s Urals region has been rocked by a meteorite explosion in the stratosphere. The impact wave damaged several buildings, and blew out thousands of windows amid frigid winter weather. Hundreds are seeking medical attention for minor injuries.
Russian space agency Roskosmos has confirmed the object that crashed in the Chelyabinsk region is a meteorite: “According to preliminary estimates, this space object is of non-technogenic origin and qualifies as a meteorite. It was moving at a low trajectory with a speed of about 30 km/s (67,000 MPH).”
According to scientists, the object detonated in the stratosphere, producing a rain of smaller fragments. It is not related to Asteroid 2012 DA14, according to scientists.