(Photo: Google Earth, NASA/JPL-Caltech)
A meteor seen flying over Russia on Feb. 15 at 3:20: 26 UTC impacted Chelyabinsk. Preliminary information is that this object was unrelated to asteroid 2012 DA14, which made a safe pass by Earth.
The 2013 Asteroid 2012 DA14 near-Earth flyby and the Russia Meteor Blast both occurred last February 15 but National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientist Don Yeomans confirms the asteroid flyby did not cause the unexpected meteor blast in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Don Yeomans, the NASA asteroid expert and Head of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office, revealed to Space.com through an email that the Russia meteor blast probably came from an exploding fireball called "bolide."
The NASA scientist emphasized that the "bolide" is not related with the asteroid that safely passed by with 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) from planet Earth. "The asteroid will travel south to north. The bolide trail was not south to north and the separation in time between the fireball and 2012 DA14 close approach is significant," Yeomans stated.
In the email to Space.com, NASA scientist Don Yeomans explained: "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 versus the trailing side, it pancaked and exploded. It is far too early to provide estimates of the energy released or provide a reliable estimate of the original size."
According to the NASA web site, the meteor's entry was a very shallow one based on the period of the meteor blast. The meteor was brighter than the sun and estimated to be one-third the diameter of the asteroid which makes it bigger than the meteor that hit Indonesia in October 8, 2009. The visibility of the meteor trail in Russia lasted for at least 30 seconds.
The Russian Emergency Ministry confirmed over 500 people was injured from the meteor blast and hundreds of windows and buildings were destroyed. Experts continue to search for the meteor fragments in order to analyze then give the exact details and further explain the mystery behind the space rock that hit Russia without a warning.
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