WNYT.com

Asteroid misses earth, meteorite hits Russia

Posted at: 02/15/2013 5:52 PM
By: Dan Bazile

TROY -- It came streaking through the skies over Russia. Then what appeared to be an explosion sent a powerful shockwave that shattered windows and blew a roof off a factory. The whole thing was caught on video. The images are now burned in the minds of many in the capital region.

Some people did get injured, mostly by flying glass. Professor Laurie Leshin, the dean of science at RPI said that's why the space community is keeping a close eye on asteroids that might be heading for earth.

"If you actually do the odds, you're about just as likely to die from a large impact than you are from a plane crash," Leshin said.

The meteorite over Russia was about the size of a school bus and most of it broke apart before it hit the earth. The ones we need worry about are a little bigger, according to Leshin.

"It's probably the things that are the size of Troy that are more a concern. That's the one that killed the dinosaurs, it's about the size of Troy -- so not that big," she said.

Leshin has been studying meteorites most of her life. She came to RPI from NASA. Her office is littered with things she picked up along the way, including her own piece of space rock.

"I'm now working with the Curiosity Rover on Mars," she told Newschannel 13. "That's been very exciting. We just drilled our first hole on Mars."

And just by coincidence, another space rock did fly by earth Friday, a little too close for comfort for scientists since that one was bigger, about the size of half a football field.

"It's looking like these two are not related, which is kind of amazing when you think about it. One came in going one direction and the other in the other direction," Leshin said.

She said they travel at about 30 thousand miles per hour. That is a lot faster than a speeding bullet. She said knowing they're coming is one thing. But we have to develop a way to protect ourselves.