The Ural Mountain region near the Kazakhstan border was the site of undoubtedly many freaked-out Russians Friday as a meteor estimated at 11 tons crashed into Earth. Some 1,100 people were injured from damage caused by shock waves. It was the most powerful such event since 1908 when a meteor fragment hit the Tunguska area in Siberia.
The early 20th century event struck with the power of from five to 30 megatons of TNT, according to scientists. That blast equaled about 1,000 times the power of the atomic bomb dropped by the U.S. over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. An estimated 80 million trees were destroyed by the Tunguska event.
Massive numbers of windows were knocked out with shattered glass causing the majority of the injuries from the blast Friday. Many of the damaged buildings were in the town of Chelyabinsk. Scientists said the asteroid affecting the Ural region were unrelated to the DA-14 asteroid which was passing the Earth by 17,500 miles today.
Both the 1908 asteroid and the one falling to Earth today shows our planet with some incredible luck, provided DA-14 doesn’t go wildly off course. Both Russian events occurred near sparsely populated areas. Population also was not a factor with some asteroids through the Earth’s history which which were believed to have had a major influence on the planet ranging from vast changes in fauna to geology.
An asteroid almost 60 million years ago crashed into Earth, forming a “so-called” impact crater, in what is now quiet pasture land outside of Marquez, Texas, (pronounced “mar-KAY”). The town is about 20 miles west of the intersection of Texas Hwy. 7, and Interstate 45, roughly halfway between Dallas and Houston. A good friend of mine wrote a 2004 story about the long-ago asteroid. The story quotes a scientist as saying the Marquez asteroid came crashing to earth with the power of between 10 and 100 hydrogen bombs. It created a crater about 8 miles in diameter and a mile deep. Over time, receding seawater and marsh filled up the crater and turned it into an uplift, or as Professor Arch Reid of the University of Houston said in the story, the crater became turned inside out. There are scientists who believe that a meteor about six miles in diameter killed off the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago.
These occurrences remind us Earthlings that we are just sitting on piece of rock amongst countless others out there in the universe. Space specialists can estimate when a chunk of cosmos might be heading near us, like the DA-14, but pieces from asteroids do not need a humongous size to mess up the rest of our day, or, rest of our whatevers.