Apocalypse Now?

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Russia-hit-by-meteorite

Meteorite hits Russia, injuring 1200.

After the entire “the world will end” fiasco in December last year, you’d have thought that something like that would never really happen. Turns out, a meteorite just exploded over Russia last night (9:20 a.m. local time). So, I guess panicking would be the appropriate thing to do.

The 2012 DA14 asteroid zipped passed Earth yesterday and the scientists say that the meteor must’ve been a part of the asteroid itself.

So how are asteroids different from meteors and meteorites and meteoroids? I think its better that we clear this before we go deeper into what really happened.

Well, an asteroid is a rocky object in space that’s not as big as a planet and isn’t a moon. There are millions of them, like the asteroid belt in space.

A meteor on the other hand, is an asteroid that burns up as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, like shooting stars.

And a meteorite is a meteor that actually lands on the surface of Earth, think about what hit Russia last night.

As for a meteoroid? They’re just like smaller asteroids.

I hope I have made that clear. Now back to the meteorite that hit Earth.

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 (about 10 times faster than a supersonic jet), shattering about 18-32 miles above ground.

The explosion hit the Urals region, raining fireballs over a vast area and causing a shock wave that smashed windows, damaged buildings and injured 1,200 people. Out of that 1200, at least 200 were children.

This incident was captured by several cameras and the scenes that were captured are quite astonishing. If you find that hard to believe, you must watch the following video.

Now if you’re wondering how so many cameras caught this once-in-a-lifetime incident at the exact time, it’s due to the dash cams installed in the vehicles in Russia.

Dash cameras are popular in Russia for several reasons including possible disputes over traffic accidents and the corrupt reputation of police officers in many areas.

Drivers install the cameras for their own protection and to document incidents they could be caught in and on Friday, they were able to document a spectacular natural phenomenon.

It wasn’t an extremely disastrous explosion, but looking at the footage in the video you can tell that it was more of a burst explosion. In fact, one piece of meteorite broke through the ice in the Cherbakul Lake near Chelyabinsk, leaving a hole several metres (yards) wide. While thankfully there weren’t any deaths, it does make you wonder if this little meteorite is a sign of bigger things to come (or hit).

Russia

Simon Goodwin, an astrophysics expert from Britain’s University of Sheffield, said, “While events this big are rare, an impact that could cause damage and death could happen every century or so. Unfortunately there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop impacts”. Doesn’t sound very reassuring right?

Meanwhile the Russian Astronomers, say that there’s nothing to worry about. The rarity of this incident doesn’t avert from the fact that the impact can’t really be avoided. While it is perfectly sound to believe that the earth probably won’t get hit in this particular century, there is a fear all around the world (#Russia on Twitter) that this is just the beginning. After all, that’s how the whole species of dinosaurs got extinct isn’t it?

You can attack the meteors with weapons, nuclear weapons possibly, but the earth’s atmosphere doesn’t have a protective force field against anything bigger than a double-decker bus.

The Russian government says that their Air Defence Unit fired a missile to shatter it, but that seems highly unlikely, since that would’ve been multiple trails of the meteor around the region. So, it seems as if we’re safe for now. As for now, celebrate, be thankful for what you have, because as far as another hit is concerned, it’s quite inevitable.

Akhil Thakur

Image Source [http://darkroom.baltimoresun.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/REU-RUSSIA-METEORITE_1.jpg]

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