1,000 Injured By Blasts As Meteor Falls In Russia
San Diego Researcher Explains Why There Was No Warning
Originally published February 15, 2013 at 5:44 a.m., updated February 15, 2013 at 9:02 a.m.
With a blinding flash and a booming shock wave, a meteor blazed across the western Siberian sky Friday and exploded with the force of 20 atomic bombs, injuring more than 1,000 people as it blasted out windows and spread panic in a city of 1 million.
NASA scientists estimated the meteor was approximately 49 feet wide and 7,000 tons before it hit the atmosphere.
The event came just hours before an asteroid three times as large passed close to Earth. NASA had been tracking Asteroid 2012 DA14 for a year. The 150-foot space rock safely hurtled past Earth at 11:25 a.m. PST on Friday.
John Young, a planetarium producer for the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center said comparing Asteroids and meteors is like comparing rivers to streams –- they’re essentially the same thing but different sizes. He said that’s why the meteor hit Russia with no warning.
"It’s hard to find them, they’re very small, they’re very dark, they’re moving very fast and there’s not really a well established network for finding them," said Young. "There are some governmental agencies that work on that. The bigger ones they have found and mapped and they know where they are.
Young says small meteor fireballs reach the atmosphere about every day, but we don't see them because many of them fall over the ocean or in remote areas.
Young said he was lucky enough to witness a meteor in San Diego County last year.
"I was camping in Borrego last year and a meteor entered the earth’s atmosphere over the Sierra Nevada and exploded and it made a very, very loud sound," he described. "In fact, it was heard all over California and the southwestern area. So I can certainly see how a sonic boom could cause a lot of damage from that."
NASA said the Russian fireball was the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia, and flattened an estimated 80 million trees.