Chelyabinsk disaster shows how dangerous an asteroid really is; Know this HORROR story

    Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke about the asteroid horror story, dubbed the Chelyabinsk disaster, in Russia. Know just how dangerous an asteroid can be.

    By: HT TECH
    | Updated on: Dec 01 2022, 13:43 IST
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    Asteroid and Earth
    1/5 Space is full of objects, out of which only a few have been discovered. Asteroids are some of these objects. If you are not aware about the dangerous objects called asteroids, here are some facts you should know. First, did you know that asteroids are sometimes called minor planets? Well, they are. (Pixabay)
    Asteroid
    2/5 Differences between an Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite: According to the information provided by NASA, Asteroid is a relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun. Comet is a relatively small, at times active, object whose ice can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas. Meteoroid is a small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun. Meteor is the light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere and vaporizes, in short, a shooting star. While, Meteorite is a meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth's atmosphere and lands upon the Earth's surface. (NASA)
    Asteroid
    3/5 Asteroid: Size, frequency and impact- More than 100 tons of dust and sand sized particles are bombarded towards Earth everyday, according to NASA. While, about once a year, an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth's atmosphere, creates an impressive fireball, and burns up before reaching the surface. Every 2,000 years or so, a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage to the area. Only once every few million years, an object large enough to threaten Earth's civilization comes along. Impact craters on Earth, the moon and other planetary bodies are evidence of these occurrences. Space rocks smaller than about 25 meters (about 82 feet) will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere and cause little or no damage. By comparison, asteroids that populate the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and pose no threat to Earth, can be as big as 940 kilometers (about 583 miles) across. (NASA)
    Asteroid
    4/5 How is an Asteroid Orbit Calculated? An asteroid's orbit is computed by finding the elliptical path about the sun that best fits the available observations of the object. That is, the object's computed path about the sun is adjusted until the predictions of where the asteroid should have appeared in the sky at several observed times match the positions where the object was actually observed to be at those same times. (Pixabay)
    Asteroid
    5/5 What is NASA doing to find and learn more about potentially hazardous asteroids and comets? NASA has established a Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), managed in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The PDCO ensures the early detection of potentially hazardous objects (PHOs) - asteroids and comets whose orbits are predicted to bring them within 0.05 Astronomical Units of Earth (5 million miles or 8 million kilometers) and of a size large enough to reach Earth's surface - that is, greater than approximately 30 to 50 meters. NASA tracks and characterizes these objects and issues warnings about potential impacts, providing timely and accurate information. NASA also leads the coordination of U.S. Government planning for response to an actual impact threat. (AFP)
    Chelyabinsk
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    Know all about the Chelyabinsk asteroid disaster and find out what even small asteroids can do to us. (Reuters)

    On February 15, 2013, an asteroid exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia. The explosion resulted in the asteroid breaking down into small pebbles which rained onto Earth in the form of debris. The debris itself was not the cause of any real injury or damage. Amazingly, the real threat was from the explosion that took place and the shock wave that followed combined with the reality of modern living. The horror story that ensued injured nearly a thousand people. Since the last major asteroid strike to the Earth was hundreds of thousands years ago, most do not realize the lethality of even the smallest of space rocks. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explained the true danger we face from these space rocks speaking in a Joe Rogan podcast.

    During the podcast, Rogan asked about the threat humans face from asteroids. In response, Tyson pointed towards the asteroid that crashed into Chelyabinsk. The interesting aspect of the incident was that the the space rock itself was just 20 meters in size (just over 65 feet). In comparison, the asteroid that destroyed dinosaurs was a little over 10 kilometers in width. Yet, such asteroid could still cause damage to an entire city.

    Asteroid Chelyabinsk incident

    Tyson explained, “There was an asteroid that collided with Earth in Russia. Just near Siberia in the Ural Mountain, on the coast of Siberia. It was visible to everybody in broad daylight”. And because everyone saw it explode, people became curious and rushed to their windows to see what the bright light was all about.

    Now, because there is a time delay between the explosion and the shock wave, as light travels faster than sound, people were able to see the explosion and react to it by going towards the windows in their house and that is when the shock wave hit them!

    Once, the shockwave struck, it broke the window panes, which hit people in their faces and injured them severely. Luckily, there were no reports of any death during the event but it put nearly a thousand people in the hospital.

    “It was a shot across our bows. No one died, but there is no better way to be warned than to have band-aids to cover your injuries that could have vaporized you or rendered your species extinct”, said Tyson.

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    First Published Date: 01 Dec, 13:08 IST
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