Just one day after we posted about an asteroid coming dangerously close (in NASA’s terms) to earth today, we awoke to news about a meteorite streaming through the sky over Russia’s Chelyabinsk region. So far, it is estimated that the shockwave has caused severe damage to property and just under 1,000 are reported injured, though that number continues to climb.
As NBC reports:
The meteor, which was reportedly 10 tons, cut a blazing ribbon across the horizon, leaving a long white trail in its wake that could be seen 125 miles (200 kilometers) away in Yekaterinburg. The Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement that the space rock entered Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000 mph, according to the AP. Some authorities in Russia, however, have said that the event was a meteor shower, and not a single meteor.
The following amateur videos are, to say the least, shocking.
And the destruction was documented in an online photo album.
USA Today published an interesting Q&A on the topic, which may help clear up some misconceptions about meteorites.
This wasn’t Russia’s first encounter with a massive meteorite. On July 30, 1908, a devastating explosion occurred in the skies over Siberia with the strength 1,000 times that of the Hiroshima blast at the end of WWII. Today’s blast in Russia is now the second largest meteorite to hit earth. The 1908 event ranks as first.
A clip from the History Channel explains:
This is one random, black swan even that unfortunately cannot be prepared for. As Editor in Chief Morgan O’Rourke pointed out in a 2011 piece in Risk Management, “If a large space rock chooses to head our way there really isn’t much we can do about it, regardless of Bruce Willis’ formidable skill set.” Wired backs that up, stating, “All the advanced air defenses that humanity has invested in? The interceptor missile that are (sometimes) able to stop an adversary missile from impacting? The early-warning monitoring systems that are supposed to give humanity enough time to plan a response? They are useless, useless against a meteorite onslaught.”
No need for risk management here.