Russian Meteor Explosion Not Caused by Asteroid Flyby, NASA Scientist Says
2013-02-15 0:00

By Tariq Malik |

The meteor explosion over Russia that injured more than 500 people and damaged hundreds of buildings was not caused by an asteroid zooming close by the Earth today (Feb.15), a NASA scientist says.

NASA asteroid expert Don Yeomans, head of the agencyís Near-Earth Object Program Office, told that the object which exploded over a thinly inhabited stretch of eastern Europe today was most likely an exploding fireball known as a bolide.

More than 500 people were injured, mostly by glass cuts when windows shattered during the blast, according to the Russian Emergency Ministry.

"If the reports of ground damage can be verified, it might suggest an object whose original size was several meters in extent before entering the atmosphere, fragmenting and exploding due to the unequal pressure on the leading side vs the trailing side (it pancaked and exploded)," Yeomans told in an email. "It is far too early to provide estimates of the energy released or provide a reliable estimate of the original size."

Yeoman stressed that the bolide event was likely not associated at all with the incoming asteroid 2012 DA14, which will fly within 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) of Earth when it passes safely by our planet today.

"The asteroid will travel south to north," Yeomans said. "The bolide trail was not south to north and the separation in time between the fireball and 2012 DA14 close approach is significant."


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