Houston astronomer answers questions about meteor in Russia

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by Vicente Arenas / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on February 15, 2013 at 7:35 PM

HOUSTON -- Lots of people were asking questions in Houston about the meteorite that crashed into Russia on Friday.

The meteor streaked across the sky, created a blinding flash and made a loud boom, all in a matter of seconds.

The spectacle was caught on dash cams and video recorders all over central Russia.

The chief astronomer at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences said the falling fireball can help answer all kinds of questions.

Dr. Carolyn Sumners said scientists will try to figure out what the meteorite was made of.

They’d like to learn more about it, so they can predict when another one might crash into the earth.

Experts say it was about the size of a school bus and was moving 33,000 miles per hour.

The meteor broke the sound barrier and created a sonic boom that broke windows and damaged buildings. An estimated 1,000 people were hurt.

No one knew the meteorite was coming because so much attention was being paid to the Asteroid 2012 DA 14 which is supposed to fly by Earth less than a day later.

There is no connection between the Meteor and the Asteroid. They were on entirely different paths. Their appearances, scientists say, are coincidental.

The Houston Museum of Natural Sciences has a section dedicated to space, meteors and asteroids.

Deandre Dillard, who was visiting the museum, wondered if a similar meteorite could strike Houston.

“Yes, it could,” said Dr. Sumners, “Earth has been hit more times than the moon. We just have all kinds of things on Earth that change so we don’t see the craters.”

Sumners believes meteorites hit Earth once every 10 years.

But they usually hit the ocean or another place where they go unnoticed.

Russia’s meteor, Sumner believes, will help raise awareness about meteors.

There’s no question, that a lot more people will scan the skies and wonder when another will come crashing down.

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