Meteorite that hit Russia millions of years old

Mar 15, 2013, 09:37 IST | Agencies

A meteorite that entered Earth's atmosphere and slammed into Russia's Urals in february had broken off from a large asteroid and collided with another space body several million years ago, a Russian scientist said.

"It was formed within an asteroid, separated from it, and then, tens of millions of years ago, it suffered a collision, receiving multiple cracks as a result," said Erik Galimov, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry.

"It was because of the large number of cracks that it exploded so powerfully."

A meteorite trail is seen above a residential apartment block in Russia. File Pic/AFP

The meteorite entered the atmosphere undetected by existing space-monitoring systems and slammed into the Urals Feb 15, causing a massive sonic boom that blew out windows and damaged thousands of buildings around the city of Chelyabinsk, injuring over 1,500 people.

NASA estimated the meteorite was roughly 15 metres in diameter when it entered the atmosphere, travelling many times the speed of sound, and exploded into a fireball brighter than the sun.

Russian scientists suggest that if the Chelyabinsk meteorite had entered the atmosphere at a steeper trajectory, the consequences would have been far worse.

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