Like a scene from the movie ARMAGEDDON, a meteorite falls in Russia, injuring some 500 people. Estimated to be a 10-ton meteor, it hit Russia near the Ural Mountains in the Chelyabinsk region, about 900 miles east of Moscow. A series of five explosions caused widespread damage, breaking windows and blowing doors off frames. This on the day when an even larger space rock, Asteroid 2012 DA14 will make a close flyby of the Earth, passing only some 17,500 miles away. While the asteroid is not expected to strike the Earth, it may impact or disrupt communications and other satellites in geostationary orbit some 22,500 above the planet.
Today′s surprise of the meteor exploding over the skies of Russia is pretty exciting. Of the 500-plus people injured from the series of blasts, only about 112 required some form of hospitalization. About 67 were children injured from shattered glass as windows of their school were blown inwards from the shockwaves. Many buildings were damaged, including a zinc processing plant.
To put this in perspective, the famous Meteor Crater in Arizona resulted from an impact of an asteroid about the same size as DA14. Striking some 50,000 years ago, it left a mile-wide hole in the ground that runs about 570 feet deep. That space rock weighed an estimated 100 tons, just 10% of the estimated weight of the Chelyabinsk meteorite.
Luckily, the meteorite falls in Russia today exploded in mid-air without causing any massive loss of life. About a dozen pieces have already been recovered in the Chelyabinsk region in the Ural Mountains, about 900 miles east of Moscow. Most of the 500 people injured just have minor cuts caused by flying glass and debris as windows, doors and walls were blown inward from about five explosive shockwaves. Meanwhile, the Earth braces for the close flyby of Asteroid 2012 DA14, which will come within 17,500 of our planet. This Near-Earth-Object is expected to pass harmlessly by, but could damage or disrupt communications and other geostationary satellites in orbit.