Friday, February 15, 2013

A Close One

Image credit: Screenshot of NASA 2012 DA14 simulator by Cujo359

It apparently wasn't the one we were expecting, but a meteorite did hit the Earth today:

A meteor crashing in Russia's Ural mountains has injured at least 500 people, as the shockwave blew out windows and rocked buildings.

Most of those hurt suffered minor cuts and bruises but some received head injuries, Russian officials report.

A fireball was seen streaking through the clear morning sky above the city of Yekaterinburg, followed by loud bangs.

Meteor strike injures hundreds in central Russia

The damage appears to be related to sonic booms from the meteorite's passing, not from any actual strikes:

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.

Meteorite hits central Russia, more than 500 people hurt

It has occurred to people to wonder if this is somehow related to 2012 DA14, the asteroid that was known to be making a close pass to Earth later today. The answer appears to be that it is not:

"This bolide event probably had nothing to do with the upcoming close Earth approach of asteroid 2012 DA14, which is due to pass closely (and safely) past the Earth at 19:24 GMT today," or 2:24 p.m. ET, [head of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Don] Yeomans wrote, adding that the Russian bolide trail did not travel south to north as the asteroid will.

"And the separation in time between the fireball and 2012 DA14 close approach is significant," Yeomans said.

Russian Meteor Explosion Not Caused by Asteroid Flyby, NASA Scientist Says

I can't think of any reason why a meteor fragment related to 2012 DA14 would be on an entirely different trajectory, so this explanation makes sense to me.

Hopefully, none of the injuries are serious.

Meanwhile, if you want to keep track of the 2012 DA14 asteroid's flyby, NASA has a tracking page set up with real time simulation of the event.

No comments: