Meterorite explodes over Russia

February 15, 2013 • 10:28 am

According to many venues, including our own Chicago Tribune, a meter exploded over Russia this morning, scattering hot debris and injuring many people:

CHELYABINSK, Russia — A meteor streaked across the sky and exploded over central Russia on Friday, sending fireballs crashing to earth that shattered windows and damaged buildings, injuring more than 500 people.

People heading to work in Chelyabinsk heard what sounded like an explosion, saw a bright light and then felt a shockwave, according to a Reuters correspondent in the industrial city 950 miles east of Moscow.

The fireball, travelling at a speed of 19 miles per second according to Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, had blazed across the horizon, leaving a long white trail in its wake which could be seen as far as 125 miles away.

Car alarms went off, windows broke and mobile phone networks were interrupted. The Interior Ministry said the meteor explosion had caused a sonic boom.

“I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day,” said Viktor Prokofiev, 36, a resident of Yekaterinburg in the Urals Mountains.

“I felt like I was blinded by headlights,” he said.

No fatalities were reported, but President Vladimir Putin, who was due to host Finance Ministry officials from the Group of 20 nations in Moscow, told Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov to help those affected.

And, of course, capitalism comes to Russia:

Despite warnings not to approach any unidentified objects, some enterprising locals were hoping to cash in.

“Selling meteorite that fell on Chelyabinsk!,” one prospective seller, Vladimir, said on a popular Russian auction website. He attached a picture of a black piece of stone that on Friday afternoon was priced at $49.46.

Here’s a new video if the meteor that has already gotten 105,000 views.

50 thoughts on “Meterorite explodes over Russia

  1. a meter exploded over Russia

    I hope nobody was injured by all the millimeters…

    (sorry, just a snarky way to point to the typo)

    1. LOL, millimeters, which ties in nicely to something I’ve been wondering about. Couldn’t objects like 2012 DA14, the meteor that is now passing near the earth have satellites (milli meteors 🙂 ), that are unseen due to their smaller size? Could this Russia event be a satellite of 2012 DA14? Ethan at statswithabang probably knows but I don’t see any related posts their yet.

      1. AIUI the answers are yes and no respectively. A large meteoroid could have smaller companions, but the Russian meteorite was well separated from 2012 DA14 and travelling in a different direction.

  2. One hopes that scientists can get their hands on some of the larger land pieces.

    And I hope they don’t raise the one meteorite from the lake: it should become a long-term experiment to see if any abiogenesis-like processes arise, which may supply some insight.

    Just a thought.

    1. That lake certainly has life in it already, which pretty much rules out the possibility of any abiogenic processes proceeding very far before getting eaten.

    2. To Whom It May Concern: Dave accepts no responsibility for statements made by Dave – the other Dave – unless they are of brilliance and comedic value equal to my own.

    1. Luckily it was probably a considerably smaller event than Tunguska (no reports of trees felled), otherwise we’d have had hundreds if not thousands of casualties.
      Bullet, dodged.

      1. That’s why the monitoring satellites exist. The first data on the rate of impacts for objects in this size range came from the Vela satellites in the 1960s/70s. They also found astronomical gamma ray bursts.

        Optical & thermal pulse -> meteor
        Gamma rays -> gamma ray burst

        Optical & thermal pulse + gamma rays -> nuke

        So there is little risk of confusion.

          1. I don’t know what Mr and Mrs Putin do by night, but for sure Putin has a Medvedev for a Mishka.
            (Medvedev is Russian for a bear in “I’m going to eat your face” mode ; “mishka” is a fluffy cuddly baby bear. All of which manliness contributes to Putin’s status as a “blue boy” icon, like the Village People’s fireman and Monty Python’s lumberjack.)

    1. That’s what I was wondering about those in Yekaterinburg since that was the location of the Soviet nuclear weapons development facilities!

  3. Just heard on the BBC: Putin thanked God for not having sent the meteorite into a densely populated area…

    1. Flying between Челябинск and Екатеринбург and it’s not a densely populated area? They’re both million-plus cities. Someone has been smoking the Medvedev poop again.

    1. Remember that technically, a meteor describes the visual trail that we see as a meteoroid impacts our atmosphere. A meteorite is the bit that makes it to the ground. I saw what seemed to be legitimate pictures (linked to from Pharyngula) that showed some suspected meteorites and an impact “hole” at what appeared to be a frozen Russian lake.

    2. Impact structures (holes in lakes, for example) have been reported. Whether actual specimens have been found yet, I haven’t heard.

  4. If the dinosaurs had a space program, they would still be around.

    Scientists have been saying for decades that big space rocks exist and will inevitably hit the earth. Just like the dinosaurs found out the hard way.

    1. While the “dinosaur killer asteroid impact” is the most popular hypothesis, it is not the only one. There is continuing dispute over whether the impact was at the right time, or merely quite close – a few hundred thousand years.
      There were other things going on at the same time – the Deccan Traps volcanism in particular – which were likely capable of producing major extinctions on their own through the rapid environmental changes. Dropping the Chixulub impactor into the middle of that may have worsened things, but the case remains open of whether it really was the “dinosaur killer”.

      1. That’s what I’m waiting for. It will probably be something along the lines of punishment for homosexuality or gay marriage and the overall decay of society.

  5. Windows were broken by the shock wave of the sonic boom, which was caused by the meteoroid entering the atmosphere (not exploding). If any actual debris had been found, we’d probably be hearing reliable facts about it by now.

    1. I don’t know much about this, but the videos clearly showed a real explosion, and the force of the shock wave impacting houses looked far greater than any sonic boom I have experienced, blasting wooden covers over windows (look at some of the CCTV footage).

      1. I’m no expert either, but considering the meteor’s speed was probably somewhere around Mach 30, I’d expect its shockwave to be a lot more potent than a run-of-the-mill sonic boom produced by aircraft at Mach 2 or 3.

    1. WTF?? Like, maybe the other planets, hearing how we’re mistreating the Earth, have sent retribution or something?

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