Sunday, November 10, 2013

Meteors, Asteroids, and Other Terrifying Things:

In the image pictured here, the dots stand for the various objects that populate the inner solar system…comets, asteroids, and the like. The orange dots are the larger global killers. The blue dots are smaller objects that would only cause local devastation. The Earth’s orbit is pictured in green.

As many of you already know, on Friday February 15, 2013 a meteor blasted into the Earth’s atmosphere and broke apart over Russia, releasing nearly 500 kilotons of energy. The energy released by this explosion is equal to about 30 Hiroshima bombs. The shockwave created by the event injured more than 1,000 people and blew out the windows in more than 100,000 homes (note: this figure does not include schools, hospitals, or office buildings).

On Thursday February 21, scientists confirmed that fragments of the meteor had been recovered. Although the initial size of the object is estimated at about 55 feet (17 meters), and nearly 10,000 tons, the largest fragment is just 7 millimeters. Fortunately, the meteor"s the collisions with the atmosphere (coupled with its fiery dive to Earth) caused it to fragment and break apart into tiny pieces. None the less, this meteor was a fairly sizable object. One seemingly reasonable question I’ve often heard repeated is, “why didn’t we see it coming?”

As you can imagine, it"s never THAT easy. Find out why at:

Image Credit: NASA.JPL

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