Big meteorite explodes over Russia
17 February 2013
On Friday, 15 February 2013, a large meteorite penetrated the atmosphere, over Russia, and was witnessed as a blazing fireball. Moving at an estimated speed of 30 km/s, it passed over the southern Ural region, and exploded over the Russian Chelyabinsk Oblast. The powerful air blast occurred about 15-25 km above ground, and gave rise to a dazzling glow and a shock wave, which damaged thousands of buildings, and injured over 1,000 persons. The injuries were mainly due to glass from shattered windows. 

According to the US space agency, NASA, the cosmic object was about 17 meters across, weighed roughly 10,000 tons, and released an energy equivalent to almost 500 kilotons of TNT, over 20 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb.

The Chelyabinsk bolide is the largest since the Tunguska impact, a similar event, believed to have been due to the aerial explosion of a meteorite or a comet fragment. It is also the only known meteoritic impact with a large number of injuries. Since it is relatively small, it escaped detection by asteroid-tracking telescopes. Scientists estimate that the rare falls of big meteorites occur once every century.

Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
Senior Astronomy Specialist     
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