Science

Russian Meteor Wrap Up: Nuclear Bomb-Sized Explosion Injured 1,200

By Sean Kane email: s.kane@itechpost.com , Feb 16, 2013 07:59 AM EST
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The meteorite that exploded above Russia on Friday injured 1,200 people, smashed windows and damaged buildings.

Footage of the meteor's explosive descent appeared in numerous dash camera videos in Russia. Fragments of the 11-ton iron space rock crashed into the town of Chelyabinsk, 950 miles from Moscow, smashing thousands of windows.

As it plummeted toward the Earth's surface, the meteorite left a white streak that was visible up to 125 miles away.

"The light was so intense that it completely illuminated the courtyard of our apartment block," Sergei Zakharov, head of the Russian Geographical Society in Chelyabinsk, told The Wall Street Journal. "The sound, the shock wave came around six minutes later. No one could understand what had happened. I'd compare it to the explosion of a large flare bomb."

Sensors in the region estimate that the meteorite released as much energy as 300 kilotons of TNT, Peter Brown, director of the Center for Planetary Science and Exploration at the University of Western Ontario, told Space.com. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II released 16 kilotons.

"This could easily be in error by a factor of two," said Brown. "I am confident, however, that it is in excess of 100 kilotons, making it the largest recorded event since the 1908 Tunguska explosion."

In 1908, a 130-foot object exploded above central Siberia, three to six miles above the surface of the Earth. The meteorite flattened an area of about 800 square miles, knocking down an estimated 80 million trees. The largely uninhabited region was not officially documented until 1921, when the area was surveyed by the Soviet Academy of Sciences. 

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