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Meteors, meteoroids and meteorites are different forms of space rocks.

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Close Call in Russia

Close Call in Russia

Credit: tonynetone
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26208889@N05/8500313055
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

You’ve heard about the asteroid impact that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct and you may even have heard about the Tunguska event, a meteorite impact in Siberia in 1908. In 2013 a near-Earth asteroid exploded over Russia and thousands of people saw it!

Amazing But True!

Credit: Oleg Sh.
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48496072@N04/6263145486
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The town of Chelyabinsk, which was struck by a meteor [Figure2]

  • On February 15, 2013 a small comet or asteroid exploded over Russia. This is called the Chelyabinsk Meteor because it struck the sown of Chelyabinsk.
  • The meteor was calculated to be 19 meters wide, weighing between 12,000 and 13,000 metric tons.
  • The meteor entered the atmosphere at 19 km/sec, which is 50 times the speed of sound. The explosion released about 30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atom bomb and was about 30 times brighter than the sun.
  • A large asteroid passed close to Earth at the same time, but it was shown to be unrelated to the Russian fireball. This asteroid will more closely approach Earth in February 2173.

Show What You Know

With the links below, learn more about the Chelyabinsk Meteor. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What are the differences between a meteoroid, a meteor and a meteorite?
  2. What caused the fireball that so many people saw? Where was it in space?
  3. Why are meteors of this size so rarely seen?
  4. What was the parent body that this meteor came from?
  5. Where did the asteroid the meteorite came from originate? How do scientists know this?
  6. Why did the meteor cause less damage than would be expected for such a large explosion?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: tonynetone; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26208889@N05/8500313055; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Oleg Sh.; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48496072@N04/6263145486; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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