Friday, February 15, 2013

Meteor explodes over Russia

A meteor streaked across the sky and exploded over Russia this morning, sending fireballs crashing to earth. Buildings were damaged and more than 500 people injured but no fatalities have been reported.

The meteor hit hours before an asteroid capable of destroying London was due to fly close by the Earth, coming closer than many satellites. The European Space Agency, in a post on its Twitter account, said its experts had determined there was no connection between the Russian event and the asteroid.

Scientists say that there is no chance of the 150ft (45.7m) space rock hitting the planet. But there is a remote possibility that it could collide with one of more than 100 telecommunication and weather satellites in fixed orbits above the Earth.

The asteroid, 2012 DA14, has been closely tracked since its discovery a year ago. It is predicted to reach its nearest point to the Earth at about 7.30pm UK time this evening.

As for 2012 DA14, this could be its last close pass. Earth's gravitational field will significantly alter the asteroid's orbit around the sun, reducing its orbital period from 368 to 317 days. This will mean most of its orbit will be inside that of Earth's.

You can watch 2012 DA14 live online. NASA will also be providing live commentary starting at about 2 p.m. ET. I think that's 11:00 AM Pacific Standard Time for us West coasters.

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