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 Meteorite hits central Russia, more than 500 people hurt

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ChitteSwamy

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PostSubject: Meteorite hits central Russia, more than 500 people hurt   Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:24 pm

CHELYABINSK, Russia (Reuters) - More than 500 people were injured when a meteorite shot across the sky and exploded over central Russia on Friday, sending fireballs crashing to Earth, shattering windows and damaging buildings.

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 1,500 km (950 miles) east of Moscow.

A fireball blazed across the horizon, leaving a long white trail in its wake which could be seen as far as 200 km (125 miles) away in Yekaterinburg. Car alarms went off, windows shattered and mobile phone networks were interrupted.

"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, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were informed.

A local ministry official said such incidents were extremely rare and Friday's events might have been linked to an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool due to pass Earth at a distance of 27,520 km (17,100 miles) but this was not confirmed.

Russia's space agency Roscosmos said the meteorite was travelling at a speed of 30 km (19 miles) per second and that such events were hard to predict. The Interior Ministry said the meteorite explosion had caused a sonic boom.

Russia's Emergencies Ministry said 514 people had sought medical help, mainly for light injuries caused by flying glass, and that 112 of those were kept in hospital. Search groups were set up to look for the remains of the meteorite.

"There have never been any cases of meteorites breaking up at such a low level over Russia before," said Yuri Burenko, head of the Chelyabinsk branch of the Emergencies Ministry.

WINDOWS BREAK, FRAMES BUCKLE

Windows were shattered on Chelyabinsk's central Lenin Street and some of the frames of shop fronts buckled.

A loud noise, resembling an explosion, rang out at around 9.20 a.m. The shockwave could be felt in apartment buildings in the industrial city's centre.

"I was standing at a bus stop, seeing off my girlfriend," said Andrei, a local resident who did not give his second name. "Then there was a flash and I saw a trail of smoke across the sky and felt a shockwave that smashed windows."

A wall was damaged at the Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant but a spokeswoman said there was no environmental threat.

Although such events are rare, a meteorite is thought to have devastated an area of more than 2,000 sq km (1,250 miles) in Siberia in 1908, smashing windows as far as 200 km (125 miles) from the point of impact.

The Emergencies Ministry described Friday's events as a "meteor shower in the form of fireballs" and said background radiation levels were normal. It urged residents not to panic.

Chelyabinsk city authorities urged people to stay indoors unless they needed to pick up their children from schools and kindergartens. They said what sounded like a blast had been heard at an altitude of 10,000 metres (32,800 feet).

The U.S. space agency NASA has said an asteroid known as 2012 DA14, about 46 metres in diameter, would have an encounter with Earth closer than any asteroid since scientists began routinely monitoring them about 15 years ago.

Television, weather and communications satellites fly about 500 miles (800 km) higher. The moon is 14 times farther away.

(Additional reporting by natalia Shurmina in Yekaterinburg and Gabriela Baczynska in Moscow, Writing by Alexei Anishchuk and Timothy Heritage, Editing by Michael Holden)
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ChitteSwamy

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PostSubject: Re: Meteorite hits central Russia, more than 500 people hurt   Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:26 pm

Asteroid to make close pass by Earth on February 15; no impact seen

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - A small asteroid will pass closer to Earth next week than the TV satellites that ring the planet, but there is no chance of an impact, NASA said Thursday.

The celestial visitor, known as 2012 DA14, was discovered last year by a group of amateur astronomers in Spain. The asteroid is about the size of an Olympic swimming pool at 150 feet (46 m) in diameter and is projected to come as close as 17,100 miles (27,520 km) from Earth during its February 15 approach.

That would make it the closest encounter since scientists began routinely monitoring asteroids about 15 years ago.

Television, weather and communications satellites fly about 500 miles (800 km) higher. The moon is 14 times farther away.

Even so, "no Earth impact is possible," astronomer Donald Yeomans, with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told reporters during a conference call.

The time of the asteroid's closest approach will be 2:24 p.m. EST (1924 GMT), daylight in the United States, but dark in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia where professional and amateur astronomers will be standing by with telescopes and binoculars to catch a view.

DA14 will soar through the sky at about 8 miles (13 km) per second. At that speed, an object of similar size on a collision course with Earth would strike with the force of about 2.4 million tons of dynamite. The last time that happened was in 1908 when an asteroid or comet exploded over Siberia, leveling 80 million trees over 830 square miles (2,150 sq km).

"Although they wouldn't (cause) a global catastrophe if they impact the Earth, they still do a lot of regional destruction," said Lindley Johnson, who oversees the Near-Earth Object Observations Program at NASA headquarters in Washington DC.

NASA has been on a mission to find and track all near-Earth objects that are .62 miles (1 km) in diameter or larger. The effort is intended to give scientists and engineers as much time as possible to learn if an asteroid or comet is on a collision course with Earth, in hopes sending up a spacecraft or taking other measures to avert catastrophe.

About 66 million years ago, a 6-mile diameter (10 km) object smashed into what is now the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico leading to the demise of the dinosaurs as well as most plant and animal life on Earth.

The planet is regularly pelted with objects from space, adding up to about 100 tons of material per day, Yeomans said.

"Basketball-sized objects come in daily. Volkswagen-sized objects come in every couple of weeks. As you get to larger and larger sizes the number of objects out there is less and less, so the frequency of hits goes down," Yeomans said.

Something the size of DA14 can be expected to strike Earth about every 1,200 years.

"For objects of this size, this is the closest predicted encounter that we're aware of," Yeomans said.

(Editing by David Adams and Cynthia Osterman)
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PostSubject: Smaller version of Tunguska meteorite sows panic in Russia   Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:05 pm

Smaller version of Tunguska meteorite sows panic in Russia


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Experts say that solid fragments of the meteor that struck Russia's Urals today will be very hard to find. The shock wave, which caused minor damage in the city of Chelyabinsk on February 15th, was the largest and the only negative manifestations of the falling meteor, Maxim Shingarkin, deputy chairman of the Duma Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Ecology said in an interview with Pravda.Ru.

"The heavenly body that exploded in the morning of February 15 in the sky over Chelyabinsk, was a satellite of the asteroid, which is now flying in the vicinity of the orbit of our planet," the expert in radiation and nuclear safety said.

In pictures: Meteor explodes above Russia

Shingarkin compared the phenomenon in the Chelyabinsk region with the Tunguska meteorite:

"The most significant manifestation of this kind of celestial objects that has ever been observed by man, was the fall of the so-called Tunguska meteorite. However, even after the fall of such a large object, there were no fragments of the meteorite found on the ground because it actually was not solid. It was a concentration of gas and ice-like substances that exploded in Earth's atmosphere. However, the destruction of that meteorite produced a strong blast wave. The phenomenon that we could observe in Chelyabinsk this morning was similar, although it was of a much smaller scale."

The expert noted that if something caused fear in this situation, then it was the unpredictability of the natural phenomenon:

"To prevent and predict the occurrence of such phenomena is impossible from a scientific point of view. We can detect a large object in space that moves in the vicinity of Earth's orbit, but we can not predict where and at what time a small celestial body may fall down to Earth."

The expert believes that there is no danger in connection with the explosion of a meteorite in the sky over.

"In terms of consequences for the population, the chemical explosion of hydrogen that occurred is completely safe. One should not expect anything from it - the blast wave was the only consequence. On the ground surface, there will probably be minor elements of the solid meteoritic body found: small particles of silicon and iron in extremely small amounts. One shouldn't touch those fragments, if they are found, of course, for it may lead to toxic burns when contacting unprotected skin. But I have to say this once again that finding solid fragments of a meteorite is an extremely rare occurrence.

"Such a body is mostly made of frozen gas - hydrogen, small amounts of water and other impurities. It does not pose any threat. When contacting dense layers of the atmosphere, the body heated up, and the hydrogen exploded. It was a chemical explosion that left almost nothing of the cosmic body. Most likely, the meteor was as big as a mini van. Such celestial bodies do not contain radioactive elements, so one should not be concerned about a higher radiation background in Chelyabinsk. In space, hazardous in terms of radiation objects are large planets and extinct or collapsing stars. There are no other kinds of radiation in space," the expert said.

In the morning of February 15th, a meteor crashed down above Russia's Chelyabinsk. Videos of the incident show the meteor exploding in the sky soon after it entered the atmosphere of the planet. Specialists are currently exploring the area in an attempt to find fragments of the space body.
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lion king

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PostSubject: Meteorite fragments found   Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:26 pm

Meteorite fragments found

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The scientists from the Ural Federal University (Ekaterinburg), who took part in the search for fragments of the meteorite that exploded on February 15 in the skies over the Chelyabinsk region, have officially announced the discovery of the meteoritic material.

A broadcast from the UrFU Laboratory of UFU showed the fragments of the celestial body: they are black pieces of up to 1 cm large, ITAR-TASS reports.

"The mission of the UrFU brought the fragments of the substance discovered near Chelyabinsk. Scientists say that this is the meteorite that caused so much trouble last week," UrFU News reports.

According to experts, the extraterrestrial nature of the fragments has been confirmed as a result of a chemical analysis. It has also been reported that the scientists intend to call the meteorite Chebarkul - after the lake, near which the fragments were found.

"We have just finished the research, and we confirm that the fragments of the matter that was found during our expedition to Lake Chebarkul do have the meteorite nature. This meteorite is classified as an ordinary chondrite. This is a rocky meteorite with an iron content of about 10%. Most likely, it will be called " Chebarkul Meteorite," Victor Grokhovsky of UrFU said.

Earlier it was reported that the search for the fragments of the meteorite that exploded over the territory of the Chelyabinsk region, was stopped after no fragments were found.

Meanwhile, experts say that the Chelyabinsk bolide split into millions of small particles during the explosion.

The appearance of the meteorite was recorded in the morning of February 15 in five regions of Russia: Tyumen, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Kurgan regions and Bashkortostan. As a result, of the "meteor attack," more than a thousand people suffered, 50 were hospitalized.

The Chelyabinsk meteorite can be comparable to the Sikhote-Alin meteorite.

"The invasion of the celestial body in the outer atmosphere of the Earth is a normal phenomenon. This time, we saw quite a good bolide over the Urals. I think that the object that entered the Earth's atmosphere was much larger than what fell down on the ground. Usually, about 90 percent of the mass burns. Judging by the tail that was left in the sky, it was a bolide that can be compared to the Sikhote-Alin meteorite," said Grokhovsky.

The Sikhote-Alin meteorite is the largest iron meteorite that was observed during the fall. The total weight of the meteorite was about 70 tons. It fell on 12 February 1947 at 10.38 a.m. local standard time in the western part of the Sikhote-Alin, the Primorye region of the RSFSR.

When passing through the Earth's atmosphere, the celestial body collapsed into thousands of pieces and fell down on the area of ​​3 square kilometers. The fall was accompanied with a bright fireball observed in the Khabarovsk and Primorye regions of the Russian Federation.
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