File this under ‘strange coincidence of cosmic phenomena’…
The near-Earth fly-by of asteroid 2012 DA14 co-occurred with a bus-sized meteor entering Earth’s atmosphere over the Russian Ural mountain city of Chelyabinsk, producing blinding flashes and numerous sonic booms — blowing out windows in buildings over a fairly wide area — before finally exploding into a shower of smaller fire balls which rained down on the panicked population.
Initial estimates were that some 500 persons had been injured, but more recent reports put that total to over 1000 persons injured — mostly from the flying debris and glass from damaged buildings. Witnesses described scenes of utter “chaos”.
The Russian Interior Ministry department identified the Chelyabinsk region to be the point of impact* of the meteor which had been spotted earlier (or may have been one of several) in the Urals region, near lake Chebarkul, which is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Chelyabinsk, earlier today (February 15, 2013).
* The meteor did not in fact hit the ground, but rather, exploded in the atmosphere about 10 -15 miles above the surface, with an “air blast” estimated at 300 – 500 kilotons. Had such a meteor been mostly made of iron, instead of rock, it would have conceivably impacted the ground and the damage to life and property would have been much more severe.
Watch these amazing videos taken by residents of Chelyabinsk and environs (article continues below):
in the aftermath of the meteor explosion, and with concerns already high with the 17,000 mile ‘fly-by of asteroid DA14, calls are already being made for some type of anti-asteroid program and/or defense shield or ‘sentry’.
In a timely development, planetsave recently reported on an announcement by ESA (The European Space Agency) and Johns-Hopkins Research Institute to fund plans for an “asteroid intercept” or “deflection” mission called the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA).
Top photo: Photo By Nasha gazeta, www.ng.kz 9 hrs ago
Michael Ricciardi is a well-published writer of science/nature/technology articles and essays, poetry and short fiction. Michael has interviewed dozen of scientists from many scientific fields, including Brain Greene, Paul Steinhardt, and Nobel Laureate Ilya Progogine (deceased). Michael was trained as a naturalist and taught ecology and natural science on Cape Cod, Mass. from 1986-1991. His first arts grant was for production of the environmental (video) documentary 'The Jones River - A Natural History', 1987-88 (Kingston, Mass.). Michael is also an award winning, internationally screened video artist. Two of his more recent short videos; 'A Time of Water Bountiful' and 'My Name is HAM' (an "imagined memoir" about the first chimp in space), and several other short videos, can be viewed on his website (http://www.chaosmosis.net). Michael currently lives in Seattle, Washington.