Space reporter: Meteor in Russia is classic meteor fall

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February 15, 2013, 11:53 am
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(NECN) – Unbelievable video shows a meteor streaking through the sky over Russia early Friday morning. It led to a meteorite slamming into a community about 900 miles east of Moscow, injuring hundreds and causing the roof of a factory to collapse.

Joining us by phone is J. Kelly Beatty. He's a veteran space reporter and senior contributing editor of Sky and Telescope Magazine.

What about this incident stands out to him the most?

Beatty says it’s a classic meteor fall. He says there was a very similar incident in 1947, also over Russia as it turns out. Beatty says when the object comes into the atmosphere and is big enough to get down low but not big enough to hit the ground, they break apart, they explode in the atmosphere creating a lot of shrapnel that falls onto the ground.

Does this have anything to do with the approaching asteroid?

Beatty says none whatsoever. He says they are coming in different directions, for one thing, and this is just a freak cosmic coincidence. Beatty says they don’t know anything yet about the composition of the meteorite that fell in Russia, but they don’t see anything at all that would connect the two.

This asteroid is coming closer than many satellites. Could this damage them or affect our communications on Earth?

No and no, Beatty says. He says there’s no indication it will hit any satellites. He says space is a pretty big place and it would be an incredibly rare possibility for that to happen. Beatty says it won’t affect Earth in any way; it will just be a great show.

So what about meteoroid versus meteor versus meteorite?

An object in space is a meteoroid. As it goes through the atmosphere it’s a meteor. And when it goes to the ground, it’s a meteorite. So one object can be all three things.

Tags: meteorite, Earth, asteroid, space reporter, sky and telescope magazine, j. kelly beatty
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