The NotiCOTO Chelyabinsk, Russia -A meteor approximately 15 meters wide and weighing about 7,000 tons fell on Friday in a populated area of the Urals region of Russia, which injured more than a thousand and caused panic among the population, only hours before the passage of another asteroid that was just 27,000 miles from Earth.
Authorities said that every day hundreds of fragments fall to earth, but since our planet is much more water than land, they pass unnoticed
Astronomers use different terms to describe the cosmic objects of different sizes: When the rock is not wider than one meter (3.3 feet), is called a meteorite. But once it passes and reaches 1 meter to 10 meters high, the term "asteroid" applies.
The difference in size of an Asteroid and a meteorite is like comparing a hurricane to a tornado. Cyclones are easier to detect and predict than tornadoes and the same goes for asteroids and meteorites.
The attention of scientists was focused this friday on the asteroid 2012DA14, that passed just 27,000 miles from Earth, which would have caused a much greater catastrophe.
"There were several dozen fairly large fragments (Meteor), of which many came to Earth," said Vladimir Puchkov, Minister for Emergency Situations of Russia, according to local agencies. Russian scientists have set up a laboratory in the area to study the remains of the meteorite that many called the "Fireball of Chelyabinsk" , as it is in that region of the Urals where the astral body fell.
At first we thought it was a meteor shower, but that was denied by the Russian space agency, Roscomos , who confirmed that it was "a celestial body, a meteorite, which was moving at a speed of 30 kilometers per second at a low trajectory. "
The incident Chelyabinsk is the largest known cosmic impact since another explosion also took place in Russia a century ago, the Tunguska event of 1908 that also produced hundreds injured.
NASA estimates that the energy released by the impact Chelyabinsk amounted to 300 kilotons of TNT, suggesting that the explosion was more than 10 times more powerful than the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War.
NASA put the width of the object of Chelyabinsk in 15 meters (50 feet), and its mass by 7,000 tons. Much of this mass was burned during atmospheric entry of the object at a speed of 40,000 miles per hour (18 kilometers per second). "The fireball was brighter than the sun," the space agency said in a statement
The meteorite or small asteroid fell about 80 kilometers from the city of Satka, head of the district of the same name, about 09.20 local time (20.03 GMT), but the blast hit several adjacent regions and even to neighboring Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan.
"When many heard the deafening explosions, they thought it was an earthquake. Children who skated at that time fell on ice due to the expansive wave, "said Alexandr Martents , Chelyabinsk city resident.
According to the governor of Chelyabinsk (3.5 million population), about 1000 people were injured due to the fall of the meteorite fragments, while several thousand homes and buildings in that city were affected by the blast.
Authorities estimated at 100,000 square meters of glass from the windows that were blown up due to the explosions, which left hundreds of homes without protection in winter.
According to the Ministry of Health, at the time of this writing, two people were in critical condition and 22 others moderately serious because of various traumas, wounds and cuts, many of them caused by crystals.
"In the news, we heard to be careful of increased radiation levels, and it is advisable to stay indoors and close the windows," said a pharmacist in the town of Kopeisk.
However, Puchkov said that "there has not been an increase in radiation levels," which was supported by the Russian health chief, Gennady Onischenk. The official called on local people not to panic, saying that radiation levels are within the normal range and that affected populations have heat, light and water.
"Nobody warned us about this phenomenon. I thought it was a gas explosion. And then when I went outside I saw in the sky a large red trail, "said the pharmacist, adding that "people were afraid that they would not be let out for days on the street, so they got medicines. People bought bandages, hydrogen peroxidend and tranquilizers for victims and people who are under stress. "
Although experts say meteorite fragments are not radioactive, the Emergency Ministry has advised people to stay away if they find one near their homes.
When pieces of a meteor (or asteroid) survive the fiery fall through the atmosphere and hit the surface, the parts are called meteorites.
Russian officials say a hole in the ice in Chebarkul Lake, near Chelyabinsk, marks a point where at least one meteorite made its mark.