Russian meteor offers a fascinating study at the U

4:34 PM, Feb 16, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - University of Minnesota Astronomy Professor Bob Gehrz has seen a lot of things in his 28 years on the job. He says he hasn't seen anything like the video that went viral out of Russia. Dozens of people captured a meteor above the Ural Mountains; a few moments later, buildings were shaking and windows were buckling.

"It just made a large shockwave that would sound like a clap of thunder. But in this case, the clap of thunder was violent enough so that it broke windows and even knocked down a roof," Prof. Gehrz said. It blew in an estimated one million square feet of glass and damaged 3,000 buildings. More than 1,000 people were injured.

NASA says the meteor made a very shallow entry into the atmosphere. Scientists say it exploded 20 to 30 miles above the ground. It has been described as weighing 10 or 11 tons, about the same weight as four full sized SUVs stacked on top of each other.

"It is part of a failed planet and some of these things are thrown into the earth crossing orbits by the gravity of Jupiter," Gehrz said.

While it may seem new or exciting to us, it happens more often than we think, the Professor said. What he was excited about was the fact that now the world can see what happened above Russia. "The earth is some 80% covered by water and most of the land is unoccupied so these things occur in the places where people just don't see them," Gehrz concluded.


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