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.
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When was the last comparable meteorite strike?
In 2008, astronomers spotted a meteor heading toward Earth about 20 hours before it entered the atmosphere. It exploded over the vast African nation of Sudan, causing no known injuries. The largest known meteorite strike in recent times was the "Tunguska event" that hit Russia in 1908. Even that strike, which was far bigger than the one that happened over Russia on Friday, didn't injure anyone. Scientists believe that an even larger meteorite strike may have been responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago. According to that theory, the impact would have thrown up vast amounts of dust that blanketed the sky for decades and altered the climate on Earth.Skip to next paragraph
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What can scientists learn from Friday's strike?
Bischoff says scientists and treasure hunters are probably already racing to find pieces of the meteorite. Some meteorites can be very valuable, selling for up to €500 ($670) per gram depending on their exact composition. Because meteors have remained largely unchanged for billions of years — unlike rocks on Earth that have been affected by erosion and volcanic outbreaks — scientists will study the fragments to learn more about the origins of matter. Harris, of the German Aerospace Center, says some meteorites are also believed to carry organic material and may have influenced the development of life on Earth.
What would happen if a meteorite hit a major city?
Scientists hope never to find out, but they're still trying to prepare for such an event. Von Weyhe, the European Space Agency spokesman, says experts from Europe, the United States and Russia are already discussing how to spot potential threats sooner and avert them. But don't expect a Hollywood style mission to fly a nuclear bomb into space and blow up the asteroid.
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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.