Watch video above: Meteorite explodes over Chelyabinsk, Russia, Feb. 15, 2013.
TORONTO – Saturday marks the one year anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russia.
It was early morning on Feb. 15, 2013 when people around this quiet Russian city were heading to work. A bright fireball lit up the sky, several times brighter than the sun, casting moving shadows as it crossed the sky. Against the enormous stresses as it entered out atmosphere, the massive piece of rock began to break apart 30 km above Earth.
Minutes later, a sonic boom rang out across the city, shattering windows, knocking people to their feet, and injuring nearly 1,000 people.
What have we learned?
Since then, we’ve discovered quite a bit about this solar system interloper.
The rock was estimated to be about 19 metres in diameter and weighed about 10,000 tonnes. It entered our atmosphere at an incredible 19 km/s, releasing about 500 kilotons of energy about 23 km above Earth.
Because of its trajectory and speed, it pushed out the air in front of it, resulting in the sonic boom heard around the city.
One of the first studies of the meteor found that it was likely 4.4 billion years old.
After the explosion, most of the meteor became dust. About 4,000 to 6,000 kg -– less than 0.05 percent –- of it fell to the ground as meteorites. (Meteorites – as opposed to meteors – are pieces of a meteor that make it to Earth.)
Months later, NASA research found that the plume of debris from the meteor blast in the atmosphere circled the globe in just four days.
In the days after the meteorite explosion, reports circulated that a large piece of it had fallen into nearby Lake Chebarkul. In October, a 650 kg piece of it was pulled out of the lake and scientists continue to study one of the earliest pieces of our solar system.
Scientists continue to study the meteorite that was the most well-documented in history. One recent study out of Western University found that events like the Chelyabinsk meteor are more likely to occur every 30 or 40 years — not every 120 to 150 years as previously believed.
Some scientists believe that the Chelyabinsk meteor belonged to a larger asteroid that broke apart 1.2 million years ago, perhaps as it once passed nearby Earth.
Now the Chelaybinsk meteor will go down in sporting history: anyone who wins a medal in Sochi on Feb. 15, 2014 — one year to the day of the strike — will have a part of the meteorite as part of his or her medal. It will truly be a medal that’s out of this world.