sexta-feira, 15 de fevereiro de 2013

Meteor Explosion in Russia Hurts More than 900 People: Reports

More than 500 people are reportedly injured, and hundreds of buildings damaged, after a meteorite streaked across the sky above Russia's Ural Mountains Friday morning (Feb. 15) and exploded in a massive blast.

The meteor explosion was centered around the Chelyabinsk region, which is about 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) east of Moscow.

Most of the hundreds injured were reportedly hurt by falling glass in the blast, 112 of whom have been hospitalized, due to cuts from the shattered glass resulting from the blast. In addition, an estimated 297 buildings were damaged, including six hospitals and 12 schools, according to translations of updates by the Russian Emergency Ministry.

Scientists think a meteoroid entered the atmosphere above Russia's southern Chelyabinsk region, where it exploded and broke up into meteorites scattered across three regions of Russia and Kazakhstan, according to news reports. [Photos of Russia's Meteor Fireball Blast]

"I would think that this is likely an exploding fireball (or bolide) event caused by the atmospheric impact of a small asteroid," Don Yeomans, head of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program, told "If the reports of ground damage can be verified, it might suggest an object whose original size was several meters in extent before entering the atmosphere, fragmenting and exploding due to the unequal pressure on the leading side vs. the trailing side."

Basically, Yeomans added, the meteor "pancaked and exploded."

(A bolide is an extraterrestrial body ranging in size from 0.6 to 6 miles, or 1-10 km across that hits Earth at velocities faster than a speeding bullet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.)

"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, 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.

A large chunk of the space rock has reportedly been discovered in a lake in the Chelyabinsk region, CNN reports.

A report by the Russian television news agency Russia Today showed video of the meteor, which included what appears to be a fireball streaking across the sky from several vantage points. At times the object is so bright it casts shadows.

In 1908, a fireball exploded over the Tunguska River in Siberia, Russia, flattening hundreds of square miles of land during a massive blast. That fireball was created by the explosion of an object about 150 feet (45 meters) across, NASA scientists have said.

A similarly sized object, the asteroid 2012 DA14, will fly extremely close to Earth on Friday, but will not hit the planet. The asteroid will approach within 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) of the Earth —about 5,000 miles (8,046 km) closer than geosynchronous satellites —during the close shave.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered in February 2012 and is being closely tracked by NASA and astronomers around the world. The asteroid is about half the size of a football field, but will not be visible to the naked eye when it flies by on Friday. A small telescope or binoculars, very dark skies and good timing will be needed to see the fast-moving asteroid.

Bounty sets off hunt for meteorite pieces (so far none have been found)

THE Russian city where the biggest meteorite to hit earth in more than 100 years crashed last week is facing a gold rush, with collectors offering more than $15,000 for a fragment of the rock.

A day after the fireball streaked across the sky and exploded with the force of an atomic bomb, residents in Chelyabinsk were out in force searching for pieces to sell. Potential buyers posted messages on the Russian internet calling on finders to come forward. One Russian buyer offered 500,000 roubles ($16,000) for a single fragment.

The gold rush begins for fragments of Russian meteor worth more than £10,000 each as astronomers warn UK had a lucky escape

'Meteor hunters' are out in force as collectors offer large sums
But they may have to wait for spring for snow to thaw to search
Astronomers say meteor could have hit UK if the it struck at a different time

The meteor that crashed in central Russia on Friday has sparked a modern-day gold rush as treasure hunters flock to the area for fragments worth more than £10,000.

Just a day after the 40-tonne meteor, which injured more than 1,200 people with flying fragments of glass and rubble, hurtled across the sky above Chelyabinsk, locals were out in force seeking fragments to sell to collectors desperate for a piece of the celestial body.

Enthusiasts took to the internet to let locals with a fragment know they could make big money. One Russian buyer was offering 500,000 roubles (£10,700) for a single rock.

Locals searching for meteorite fragments have gathered at a frozen lake where a chunk of meteorite hit. Collectors are offering £10,000 for a single piece

Meanwhile, experts say the meteor could have hit a UK city with the force of a nuclear bomb if it had entered the atmosphere at a different time of day.

The meteor penetrated Earth's atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,0000mph.

As it raced through the sky, the 50-foot wide chunk of space rock compressed the air ahead of it, creating the enormous temperatures that meant it exploded in a fireball somewhere between 18 and 32 miles above the ground at around 9.20am local time on Friday.

Although some debris fell to earth, ‘whipping up a pillar of ice, water and steam’ and creating a 20-foot-wide crater, the damage in nearby towns was actually caused by shockwaves created by the meteor breaking the sound barrier and then exploding.

Shockwave: People heading to work in Chelyabinsk, Russia, heard what sounded like an explosion, saw a bright light and then felt a shockwave when a meteor soared across the sky above them

The focus of the meteor hunters' efforts was a frozen reservoir outside the nearby town of Chebarkul, where the largest meteorite pieces are thought to have crashed, reports The Sunday Times.

Russian authorities stopped a group of locals searching around a hole in the ice as they want people to stay away from the fragments until scientists from Moscow have tested them. Russian authorities also said the search for the meteorite may have to wait until spring when the region's ice and snow thaws.

'The web is awash with people saying they want to buy this stuff," said Oleg Karpov, a Chelyabinsk local. 'Maybe this thing was not that bad after all if a few of us make some money out of it.'

Collectors from around the world will be keen to get hold of a piece. Film director Steven Spielberg is a noted collector. In October a 9in piece of the Seymchan meteorite found in Siberia in 1960 sold in New York for $43,750 (£28,200).

Astronomers have also revealed that the meteor could have hit UK cities if it had hit at a slightly different time of day.

Nasa said that when the meteor entered the atmosphere, it exploded with the force of a nuclear weapon.
The revelation, based on an analysis of the earth's rotation, comes as scientists reveal that they are planning a state-of-the-art detection system to give warning of incoming asteroids and meteorites, reports the Observer.
The announcement of the decision to build the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System, or Atlas, on Hawaii was made following the meteorite crash in Russia.

If the meteorite had hit at a different time of day, it could have struck the UK with devastating consequences

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