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Meteor Strike over Russia: Was it the first?

by Santosh Singh

On Feb 15 early morning, a meteor darted across the sky above Russia’s Ural Mountain range. The fireball exploded near  Chelyabinsk, injuring hundreds of people, creating a sonic boom and damaging hundreds of buildings and causing injuries to thousands of people. The injuries were mainly from the falling glass and other building material taken apart by the massive sonic boom caused by fast moving meteor speeding at breakneck speed of about 66,000 miles per hour.

The timing of meteor strike was almost bizarre as people were waiting for another Asteroid to pass by earth on the same day. It was 2012 DA14 which was supposed to pass very close(17,100 miles) to the surface of earth. It indeed passed at the estimated time same day but all the publicity was shifted to the meteor which startled the residents of this small Russian city and the world. No-one was talking about DA14 anymore. According to astronomers this kind of event takes place only once in hundred years making it a once in a lifetime show for those who managed to watch it live.

The meteor which darted over the Urals mountains of central Russia was imaged by Meteosat-9, at the edge of the satellite’s scene. Hundreds of people were injured as the meteor’s massive sonic boom caused widespread shake-up Image taken Feb. 15, 2013, 3:15 UTC.
CREDIT: EUMETSAT

So as we said above, this kind of phenomenon happens only once in century. So when was the last time it was recorded? At 7:14 a.m. on June 30, 1908, a giant explosion shook central Siberia. Witnesses close to the event described seeing a giant fireball in the sky, as bright and hot as  sun. Millions of trees fell and the ground shook. The explosion leveled an estimated 80 million trees over an 830 square-mile area in a radial pattern from the blast zone. This event, later known as Tunguska Event, caused an explosion believed to have been caused by the air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment at an altitude of 5–10 kilometres (3–6 mi) above the Earth’s surface.

Tunguska event was the biggest meteoric impact event to be recorded in modern history. But there have been such events in the Earth’s history which have been millions of time more massive than this event. Tungusuka meteor or the current meteor strike exploded in the air itself and did not manage to reach the ground(which would have been catastrophic). But in the past there have been massive strikes which have formed huge craters on Earth’s surface. Satellite images have been able to capture all of these sites spread world in all their splendor. Below are some of the satellite images of the craters around the world:

Landsat satellite image shows a of the Manicouagan Impact Structure.
Credit: NASA/USGS
 This Landsat scene shows a glimpse of the Manicouagan Impact Structure in Quebec, Canada. Lake Manicouagan and Lake Mushalagan surround the central uplift of the crater. The original diameter of the crater was 62 miles (100 kilometers), and the age has been dated at 214 million years. Shattercones (striated features found in rocks deformed by the passage of shock waves), along with shattered and brecciated rocks found in the central uplift, confirm the crater’s impact origin. Several glacial advances have scoured the crater to its present form. It has been proposed that the impact was created by an asteroid with a diameter of about 3.1 miles (5 kilometers). Credit: NASA/USGS

Barringer Crater, also known as “Meteor Crater,” is a 1,300-meter (0.8 mile) diameter impact hole created by a massive meteor.
Image Credit: USGS/NASA

Barringer Crater.
Image Credit: B.P. Snowder

To view more satellite images of impact craters world over, please visit our gallery.

 

Below is a collection of clips of meteor impact in Russia. Mostly these are dashboard captures or cctv recordings.


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