Crazy Footage Of A Meteorite Crashing Into Russia

Dashboard cameras captured an incredible sight in Russia early Friday morning: a meteorite streaking over the Ural Mountains and crashing into Earth. The meteorite landed in the sparsely populated Chelyabinsk region, causing 102 injuries — mostly related to shattered glass from the explosive impact — and a roof collapse at a zinc factory. Early reports conflicted over what occurred in the clear morning sky — one Emergency Ministry spokesperson told The Associated Press it was a meteor shower, another reported to the Interfax news agency that it was a single meteorite. As you can see in the video above, it appears to be a single object.

Unconfirmed military reports claim Russian air defenses intercepted the meteorite, and destroyed it when it was 20km in the air. The timing of this Russian meteorite also coincides with the impending near-miss of a small asteroid set to pass by Earth hours later. From Slate’s Phil Plait:

On Friday, Feb. 15, the Earth is going to get a very close shave by an asteroid*. Called 2012 DA14, this 50 meter (160 foot) rock will pass just over 27,000 kilometers (17,000 miles) from the Earth’s surface. This is closer than our geosynchronous satellites, so this really is a close pass!

But, to be very clear: This asteroid poses no threat to us right now, nor in the foreseeable future. Friday’s miss is just that: a miss. And, in fact, this is a good thing, since any time an asteroid gets close (but misses), we learn a lot, including how to find them, how to track them, and even how to talk about them to the public.

Plait took to Twitter to explain this latest development (and put our collective minds at ease):

More pictures and video of the meteorite’s free fall to Earth, and resulting damage, can be found here.

[AssociatedPress & Dallas News]