Feb 18, 2013
A meteor fell to the Earth on the morning of Friday, February 15. It exploded as it entered the atmosphere, miles above Russia, sending down a shower of small pieces.
The explosion, which scientists estimate to have had 20 to 30 times as much energy as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, caused a powerful shock wave. Thousands of buildings in several Russian cities had shattered windows. More than 1,200 people were injured, most of them by flying glass.
Scientists estimate that before it exploded, this meteor was 55 feet across and weighed 10,000 tons. There are billions of such rocks traveling in outer space, and thousands of them have hit the Earth in the past. Those relatively big in size have caused changes on our planet – like the one that fell on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula about 65 million years ago, covering the sky with dust and causing a dark, cold spell in the Earth’s climate, which scientists think led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
But still, given our planet’s long history – 4.5 billion years – and its place in the universe (the Earth is nothing but a small speck compared to the size of a galaxy, and there are billions of galaxies in the universe) a meteor crash is rare during a human being’s lifetime.
Just a reminder of how tiny our place in the universe is.