On Friday, February 15 the explosion of a meteorite above central Russia brought a flash of light to the dark morning. Shock and confusion swept across the one million people living in the city of Chelyabinsk and around 1,100 of these people were left injured. The meteorite, weighing an estimated 7,000 tons, streaked across the Siberian sky leaving a white trail visible to those up to 124 miles away. It entered earth’s atmosphere going at a hypersonic speed around 33,000 miles per hour and continued hurtling towards land at an increased speed of 40,000 miles per hour. The fireball streaked across the sky, its white trail visible to those almost 125 miles away, before exploding around 19 miles above the town of . The fireball sent towards Russia created a massive sonic boom, and exploded with the force of 20 atomic bombs. The sonic boom caused windows to shatter, car alarms to be set off, and cell phone networks to be disrupted.
Residents of Chelyabinsk reported driving to work in the dark, and suddenly having the entire early morning sky light up with the flash of the meteorite. People were confused and injured. Over a million square feet of glass was blown in from building windows and 3,000 buildings were damaged. Almost all of the injuries pertained to the glass and 48 of the injured people were hospitalized. Luckily, no deaths took place.
Another rather lucky circumstance of the event was the location of the explosion. Being only 60 miles from a Mayak nuclear storage and waste facility that contains large amounts of plutonium. If the fireball’s position had differed less than 100 miles it could have resulted in a much larger disaster.
Coincidentally, just hours before the boom, the largest meteor strike in the past century occurred as a 150 foot asteroid passed by Earth, coming within 17,000 miles of the atmosphere. However, experts have deduced that there is no connection between the asteroid and meteorite.