The Chelyabinsk Meteor
When we think about this type of event the first thing that comes to mind is the Tunguska site. But in reality when this event occurred the asteroid or comet exploded before impact. Here recently Russia had another visitor which reminded us of our vulnerability. Where the site of the Tunguska event occurred few were effected but the Chelyabinsk meteor affected the lives of thousands of people and injured as many 1,500. The explosion itself damaged 7,200 buildings in six cities across the region. The asteroid itself was about the size of a house and weighed more than the Eiffel Tower. This event also is not considered a impact event, so what happens when a meteor and asteroid makes physical contact with the earth? What can we learn from these events?
Verified Impact Sights
In Russia alone there have been 19 verified impact sites around the country. They spread from the far east to the west and the far north and south. They have reached back in time to as early as 700 million years ago (Janisjarvi Impact lake) and to one of the more recent, the Sobolev crater which is believed to be less then one thousand years old.
So what kinds of effects do these impact events have on life here on earth? It is believed that some of the earliest meteorites are responsible for bringing the first primordial life to Earth. Comets have also been credited as the original source of Earth’s water. These same type celestial bodies have not only brought life to Earth, but are also implicated in the extinction of many species because of them.
Like in the Chelyabinsk meteor event there is an enormous kinetic energy built up. It’s travels at high speed in which the energy is partly transferred to the Earth. But larger part is converted into heat and sound. This creates pressure waves which travels radially outwards from its center, similar to that of an atomic explosion. These were the effects that the city of Chelyabinsk and the surrounding area felt.
In recorded history we have not experienced a impact meteor but the probability of this happening is ever increasing which can be shown by the amount of data that is being collected by government agencies. What few realized about the Chelyabinsk meteor event is that it was accompanied by a second meteor that didn’t enter earths atmosphere. How many more of these types of meteors are out there? What is currently lurking out in space that we don’t know about? Over the next several weeks I will be exploring what has happened in the past, other events that are more recent and the possibility of what might happen in the future. This is the first of a three part series, be looking for the others soon.
- Huge Russian meteor was ‘a wake-up call for humanity’ (itv.com)
- Next Chelyabinsk meteor FIREBALL ‘SEVEN times more likely’ than expected – Register (theregister.co.uk)
- Explaining meteors: are we in danger? (theguardian.com)