In the year of 2013, we had several ups and downs: bombings, deaths, births and significant accomplishments. Here at Ignite UNMC, we will be writing about the biggest news of 2013 as we bid the current year a goodbye and welcome 2014 with open arms.
On February 15, an asteroid entered the earth’s atmosphere over Russia, which quickly caught the attention of major news outlet and anyone who had a phone. The Chelyabinsk meteor as it is now called entered the atmosphere at about 9:20 AM (3:20 UTC) at a speed of 18.6 km/s, which for comparison is 60 times the speed of sound. Local residents of Russia first called in reporting seeing extremely bright burning objects in the sky, which is due to it becoming a brilliant superbolide meteor. Eyewitnesses reported it being brighter than the sun, which was later confirmed by NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
The meteor happened undetected and took everyone by surprise because on the same day, the majority of the astronomical world was focused on a 2012 DA14 asteroid that had passed close to earth. The asteroid was the size of an office-building and was about 27,520 kilometers high from earth. The Chelyabinsk meteor, in comparison, was relatively small in size and it travelled from the sun, which blinded telescopes.
When it was hurtling towards the earth, the meteor first created a shock wave about 95 kilometers above from earth, growing in strength and brightness. It also began to fragment, and at 27 kilometers high, it split up.
Fragments were found all over central Russia with a hole 7 to 8 meters wide was punched into a 27 inch thick layer of ice covering Lake Chebarkul, near Chelyabinsk. A 600 kilometer meteor fragment was just recently recovered from the same lake.
1,491 people were injured and sought medical attention, of which 311 were children. The majority of people were hurt by falling or shattered glass, while others reported cases of having eye pains and temporary flash blindness. Over 7,200 buildings were damaged with officials estimating the damages to be around US$ 33 million.