A meteorite exploded over central Russia causing a massive shock-wave– smashing windows, damaging buildings and injuring more than 1,000 people.
According to the Russian Space Agency, it was moving at a speed of 19 miles per second. Meteorites hit the earth regularly, but what made Friday’s event so unique was the size of the meteorite, about 10 tons, and the fact that people got to see it.
Philipp Heck, Curator for Meteorites at the Field Museum, said “The unusual thing is that it happened in an inhabited area, people were able to observe it.”
Meteorites this big usually crash into the ocean or hit the desert, it is extremely rare for there to be injuries. Scientists and curators at the Field Museum are anxiously awaiting samples from the Russian meteorite. The Field Museum is home to the country’s largest non-governmental collection of meteorites.
Hundreds of valuable samples are stored in the museum. Jim Holsteim is the Meteorites Collection Manager and says he hopes the Russian scientists will send samples from Friday’s meteorite to the Field Museum as soon as possible.
“What happens we get a new sample, we collaborate with other institutions to find out what these things are, what they’re made of,” he said.
So what are the chances a meteorite this big could hit Chicago? Astronomers say not very likely– at least not anytime soon.
“Something this big is very rare,” Dr. Mark Hammergren said.
Dr. Hammergren is an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium, he reminds us that 10 years ago in Park Forest, a small meteorite slammed into the roof of a home, portions of the roof are stored at the field museum.
On Friday, The massive asteroid with the catchy name ’2012 D-A-14′ also passed by about 17,000 miles from earth– It had no relation to the meteorite that hit Russia.
“The asteroid fly by was a coincidence,” Philipp Heck said. “Today is a special. Today we had two cosmic visitors, one unexpected and then this afternoon– an expected visitor, close predicted asteroid to Earth.”