Fast, loud, and hopefully unlikely

A meteorite is basically a small meteor. In the years of our “rock’s” existence, quite a few smaller rocks have made their way through the deep infinite reaches of space to our comparably miniscule Earth. Scientists and astronomers have pinpointed risks ranging from this year, to 2200. They have calculated the estimated size, distance from earth, speed, and the magnitude of an impact – in the event it would impact Earth, or another object in space. Evidence exists in Vredefort, South Africa, of the largest meteor to ever collide with our planet. The Vredefort Dome is 2.1 billion years old and was made from the impact of a 6.2 mile meteor. The Dome stretches 190 miles, and holds 3 large towns in its confines. Cincinnati stretches just over 100 miles from Columbus – to put that in perspective. Recently, we’ve narrowly missed dangerous encounters. Meteor 2012 XE54 passed within 140,000 miles of Earth’s surface – almost right between Earth and the moon. It would have been an estimated 120 feet in diameter –about the size of a rounded off Schaeper center by the time it would’ve made contact with earth. A meteor that size could do some substantial damage. In 1908, a meteor of similar dimensions slammed into Siberia, leveling over 800 square miles of forest. The fact that the meteor came, and no scientists or astronomers knew about it, especially from NASA, is frightening to everyone. Especially because it’s NASA. I get the impression that we all assume they are all knowing – and anything and everything that is coming close to us, they know about. But, the reality is, that infinite danger is out there, because an unimaginable number of rocks are zooming around this universe. Some together in belts, and some fly by themselves in orbits – a bunch of organized chaos. We know the patterns of so many asteroids, but there are still so many unknowns – and really an asteroid could come any time. Just like the “surprise attack” of Russia’s meteor – there are still blind spots in our technology that leave room for error. I asked real scientist and long time astronomy teacher Mr. Suer about this event, and the fears it brings. “Meteor showers are something that occur regularly. Most of the time those that enter our atmosphere burn up as a result of friction. Do I think the Armageddon is around the corner? No,” he said. “Meteorites do occasionally hit the Earth and most of the time they hit the ocean and not land. (Earth’s surface is about 2/3rds water)”. Junior Mitch Harter said “It’s kind of scary to know that it could happen at any time, but it doesn’t happen often, so it seems far-fetched.” The February 15th meteor that surprised Russia, and the whole world – originally came from a group of asteroids that regularly orbits close to Mars – and there are millions more like it. The fireball, video taped by many witnesses, was about 10,000 tons. It was 17 meters in diameter – about the length of an 18 wheeler truck. It raced towards earth going about 40,000 miles per hour. At about 12 miles above Earth, the speed, heat, and friction combined to begin breaking it down as it neared our planet. As Mr. Suer said, this is what always happens, and it what keeps us from having more of them reach Earth – because they almost always break down completely or to the size of a ping pong ball before hitting ground. This one, however was big enough to make contact and make a crater in an icy lake outside a city. Videos show people in office buildings falling over and the building shaking as some huge explosions occurred. That was the shockwave caused by the impact, and speed of the meteor. It was a super-sonic boom that rattled miles of buildings and inhabitants. NASA scientists say that it was just like dropping an atomic bomb – 30-40 times more powerful than the ones we dropped on Japan in WWII. The power and fury of our universe is frightening, and when I start thinking about the immense destruction that could occur, I have to stop myself and just remember that were still here, and we haven’t had any huge “Armageddon” size hits – ever , and I don’t think we’re “due” so I think we’ll be fine. Just don’t move to Russia.