On February 15th of this year, a meteor exploded over the Russian Ural Mountains, shattering windows and injuring close to 1,100 people (including 204 schoolchildren). Some people thought the end was near. According to the Russian Academy of Sciences, the meteor was “18-32 miles above the ground,” when it shattered. The Russian Academy of Sciences also said, “the meteor released several kilotons of energy above the region.” The specific region here is Chelyabinsk, located about 930 miles east of Moscow. Meanwhile, city officials have reported, “the shock wave blew in an estimated more than 1 million square feet of glass.”
Rather curiously, within a day after this meteor hit Asteroid 2012 DA14 made the closest recorded pass of an asteroid to Earth, according to CBS News. The European Space Agency denies the existence of a connection, though NASA’s director of planetary science Jim Green has said, “‘this is indeed very rare and it’s historic. These fireballs happen about once a day or so, but we just don’t see them because many of them fall over the ocean or in remote areas.” According to CBS News, “meteors typically cause sizable sonic booms when they enter the atmosphere because they are traveling so much faster than the speed of sound. Injuries on this scale however, are extraordinarily rare.” However, there was also no immediate reports of death, or somebody being struck by space fragments.
Resident Marat Lobkovsky has given his own personal testimony, “‘I went to see what the flash in the sky was about. And then the window glass shattered, bouncing back on me. My beard was cut open, but not deep. They patched me up. It’s OK now.” And, “Russian television ran footage of athletes at the city sports arena who were showered by shards of glass from huge windows. Some of them were still bleeding.”
CBS news has also reported city officials saying that “3,000 buildings in the
city were damaged by the shock wave.” When that happened, many residents
were exposed to temperatures as low as minus 15.8 degrees Fahrenheit, due to the implosion of glass, again according to CBS News. They have also reported that some smashed their own windows looking for compensation. This was originally stated by the news agency RIA Novosti as panic and confusion “quickly gave way to Chelyabinsk residents’ entrepreneurial instincts.” And “others quickly took to the Internet and put what they said were meteorite fragments up for sale.” The events also prompted reaction from several prominent Russians. At an economic forum in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said “the meteor could be a symbol for the forum, showing that ‘not only the economy is vulnerable but the whole planet.” Vladimir Zhirinovsky claimed that the meteor was actually “‘the testing of a new weapon by the Americans.” And the Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin ha said “the incident showed the need for leading world powers to develop a system to intercept objects falling from space.”