90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Friday, February 15, 2013

Top Scientist: Russia Meteor Biggest Impact In A Century

In this frame grab made from a video done with a dashboard camera, on a highway from Kostanai, Kazakhstan, to Chelyabinsk region, Russia, provided by Nasha Gazeta newspaper, on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 a meteorite contrail is seen. (Nasha gazeta, www.ng.kz)

In this frame grab made from a video done with a dashboard camera, on a highway from Kostanai, Kazakhstan, to Chelyabinsk region, Russia, provided by Nasha Gazeta newspaper, on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 a meteorite contrail is seen. (Nasha gazeta, www.ng.kz)

A meteor streaked through the sky and exploded Friday over Russia’s Ural Mountains with the power of an atomic bomb, its sonic blasts shattering countless windows and injuring around 1,000 people, according to Russia Today.

Sky & Telescope magazine’s Senior Contributing Editor Kelly Beatty told Here & Now that it was the largest impact on Earth since 1908, according to Margaret Campbell-Brown, an astronomer at the University of Western Ontario, who has studied data from two infra-sound stations near the impact site.

“We’re lucky that it didn’t hit a little bit lower down or over a truly populated area because the damage could have been much more substantial.”
– Kelly Beatty

“This meteor that came in over Chelyabinsk had the equivalent of 300,000 tons of TNT – it’s essentially a nuclear bomb that went off in the skies over Russia today,” Beatty said.

The meteorite may have been as large as 50 feet across and 7,000 tons when it came into the atmosphere, Beatty said.

It broke up 18-32 miles over the Chelyabinsk region, causing windows to shatter and leaving a crater about 20 feet across.

“We’re lucky that it didn’t hit a little bit lower down or over a truly populated area because the damage could have been much more substantial,” Beatty said.

The meteor and the asteroid fly-by later today are unrelated.

“They’re simply not coming from the same direction,” Beatty said.

According to Russia Today, a local zinc factory was hit the hardest by the meteor; some of its walls collapsed.

It’s not clear whether any people were struck by meteorite fragments; most people were injured by shards of glass.

Many local residents have posted their videos of the meteor online. Dashboard-mounted cameras are popular in Russia, so much of the video was captured by commuters.

A compilation of amateur and surveillance videos, posted by Russia Today:

The sonic blasts are experienced while looking out a window:

The sonic blasts are experienced on the street (Note: contains swearing):

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.

Guest:


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Spotlight

Here & Now resident chef and cookbook author Kathy Gunst shares her list of the best cookbooks of the year.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

December 18 Comment

College Counselor: ‘A Deferral Is Not A Denial’

Lisa Micele shares tips for applying to college — especially for students who have been deferred under early decision.

December 18 17 Comments

America’s Political Dynasties

Americans under 38 have only experienced one presidential election that did not involve a Bush or a Clinton.

December 17 2 Comments

Atticus Lish’s ‘Preparation For The Next Life’

The author's debut novel centers on an unlikely romance between an Iraq veteran and a Uyghur from China.

December 17 3 Comments

Diagnosing Ear Infections With Your Smartphone

The CellScope Oto is a clip-on gadget that turns a smartphone into an otoscope — the tool doctors use to check out a patient's eardrum.