The universe did to the earth what a boxer does to his chump opponent, feinting with his right as a distraction, then punching hard with his left. On the very day we were concentrating on the near miss from the asteroid, which passed within the orbit of some of our satellites, a 55-foot-long meteor, weighing 10,000 tons and traveling 44,000 miles per hour, slammed into Russia with the energy of 30 nuclear bombs. Most of that was absorbed by our atmosphere, but the shock wave injured 1,200 people and damaged thousands of houses.
From the London Telegraph:
The 55 foot wide rock, said by NASA to have a mass of 10,000 tonnes, lit up the sky above the Urals region on Friday morning, causing shockwaves that injured 1,200 people and damaged thousands of homes in an event unprecedented in modern times.
NASA estimated that the energy released as the meteor’s disintigrated in the atmosphere was 500 kilotons, around 30 times the size of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
It entered the atmosphere at 44,000 miles per hour, taking 32.5 seconds to break up at an altitude of around 15 miles above the earth’s surface.
The resulting explosion created a shockwave that blew out windows and set of car alarms in Chelyabinsk two and a half minutes later. . . .
The strike brought traffic to a halt in the industrial city of Chelyabinsk as residents poured out on the streets to watch the light show before hovering for safety as a sonic boom shattered glass and set off car alarms. Most of the injuries were caused by glass.
“We have a special team working… that is now assessing the seismic stability of buildings,” Vladimir Puchkov, the Emergencies Minister, told residents as he inspected the damage in the city.
“We will be especially careful about switching the gas back on,” he said in televised remarks.
The meteor explosion appears to be one of the most stunning cosmic events above Russia since the 1908 Tunguska Event in which a massive blast most scientists blame on an asteroid or a comet ripped through Siberia.
So should we turn our attention to protecting the world from asteroids and meteors, developing the capability to identify objects headed our way and to send missiles to destroy or deflect them? We’ve been developing the technology to shoot down missiles from earthly enemies. Shouldn’t all of us earthlings rally together to attend to missiles from outerspace?
Meanwhile, you’ve got to see the videos of the meteor; for example, this one: