Meteor explosion in Russian skies dwarfed Hiroshima: NASA

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Houston, Feb 16: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that a massive amount of energy was released when a 55-ft meteor exploded over the Urals region in Russia yesterday.

According to NASA, the meteor explosion was about 30 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that was dropped by a US bomber on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in Aug 1945.

Residents of the Urals were extremely lucky as the meteor weighing 10,000 tonnes broke up soon after entering the atmosphere. Although the meteor exploded nearly 32 miles above the earth, windows of houses in the region were blown out by the resultant shockwave and the alarms of even stationary cars were set off.

Scientists are sure that some fragments of the meteorite could be found. Expert divers plumbed the depths of Lake Chebarkul in Chelyabinsk but nothing has been discovered so far.

"When you have a fireball of this size we would expect a large number of meteorites to reach the surface and in this case there were probably some large ones," said Paul Chodas who is associated with the US space agency's Near-Earth Object Program Office. "We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average," he added.

Meteor Explosion in Russia

This is not the first time that Russia has witnessed such a stunning explosion. A large meteor or passibly a comet sped through the skies over Siberia at an altitude of five to ten kms on Jun 30, 1908. It exploded on enetering the atmosphere. The consequent blast levelled forest spread over 2150 sq kms.

That explosion is known as the Tunguska Event. Decades later, magnetite and silicate spheres were seen in the soil as well as the felled trees.

Incidentally, the focus of attention yesterday was the asteroid 2012 DA14 that whizzed past the Earth. At one stage, it was barely 27,700 km away from the earth's surface. In fact, the asteroid flew below communication and weather satellites.

The close shave prompted a Russian official Alexei Pushkov to tweet: "Instead of fighting on Earth, people should be creating a joint system of asteroid defence."

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