A meteorite has just exploded over Russia. This doesn't feel good when you know that a 150-foot asteroid is about to fly by Earth—and you read about the actual effects of an impact if astronomers' calculations are wrong. The Guardian is reporting that 474 people have been injured.
The videos we are collecting are impressive.
Latest update: The Russian Academy of Sciences has estimated that the meteorite weighed about 10 tons and entered the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000 mph, shattering about 18-32 miles above ground.
Update: the European Space Agency says their experts "confirm there is no link between the meteor incidents in Russia and asteroid 2012DA14 flyby tonight".
What's more incredible: unconfirmed reports say that an air defense unit fired a missile as the meteor entered Russian airspace at supersonic speeds, shattering it to pieces. I find this hard to believe, as I doubt their air defense had the time to detect and target an object that appeared out of nowhere, from space. There's also one single trail. If a missile actually hit anything, there would be multiple trails following the debris.
More likely, the meteor exploded before hitting the ground because of the enormous heat generated by the compression of air in front of the meteor or asteroid. This phenomenon is called asteroid airburst or bolide.
According to witnesses, cellphones stopped working and windows were blown out as the meteor exploded in the air. Some reports are suggesting that the event smashed windows as far as 125 miles from the point of impact. Apparently, about
250 people 474 people have been injured with over 20 hospitalised, according to Russia's emergency situations ministry. You can hear windows being obliterated in some of the videos.
The Russian Emergency Ministry says that there are 20,000 rescue workers deployed in the area. Aircraft are now flying over the area looking for impact sites.
The event was observed in the regions of Chelyabinsk, Tyumen and Sverdlovsk, located in the Republic of Bashkiria and in northern Kazakhstan. According to the BBC, the governor of Chelyabinsk region, Mikhail Yurevich, claims the meteor landed in a lake 1km outside Chebarkul, which has a population of 46,000.
Some people are theorizing that this is connected to the flyby of the asteroid 2012 DA14, which will pass near Earth later today, saying this is is "rubble" flying along the larger asteroid. While the timing in uncanny, there's absolutely no scientific demonstration of this theory at this point. It's purely speculative. See latest update above
This is amazing. Here you can't see the meteorite, but look at the scene lighting as the meteorite passes illuminating the sky
Additional reporting by Kyle Wagner