Meteor explodes over Russia, injuring hundreds (+video)
A 10-ton meteor exploded over Russia on Friday, creating a shockwave that blew out windows and injured some 400 people. What you need to know about meteor strikes.
A 10-ton meteor exploded in the sky above Russia on Friday, causing a shockwave that blew out windows injuring some 400 people and sending fragments falling to the ground in the Ural Mountains. Here's a look at those objects in the sky:Skip to next paragraph
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What's the difference between a meteor and a meteorite?
Meteors are pieces of space rock, usually from larger comets or asteroids, which enter the Earth's atmosphere. Many are burned up by the heat of the atmosphere, but those that survive and strike the Earth are called meteorites. They often hit the ground at tremendous speed — up to 30,000 kilometers an hour (18,642 mph) according to the European Space Agency. That releases a huge amount of force.
How common are meteorite strikes?
Experts say smaller strikes happen five to 10 times a year. Large impacts such as the one Friday in Russia are rarer but still occur about every five years, according to Addi Bischoff, a mineralogist at the University of Muenster in Germany. Most of these strikes happen in uninhabited areas where they don't cause injuries to humans.
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What caused the damage in Russia?
Alan Harris, a senior scientist at the German Aerospace Center in Berlin, said most of the damage would have been caused by the explosion of the meteor as it broke up in the atmosphere. The explosion caused a shockwave that sent windows and loose objects flying through the air in a radius of several kilometers. By the time the remaining fragments hit the ground they would have been too small to cause significant damage far from the site of impact, he said.
Is there any link to the asteroid fly-by taking place later Friday?
No, it's just cosmic coincidence, according to European Space Agency spokesman Bernhard von Weyhe, who says Asteroid 2012DA14 is unrelated to the meteorite strike in Russia.