One Day, Two NEOs: The Russia Meteor Explosion and the 2012 DA14 Asteroid Flyby

On Friday, February 15th, witnesses in Russia filmed and observed what NASA called a once-in-100-years event and what others were calling a doomsday rock. A meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk in Russia, creating widespread panic and end of the world predictions. While the meteor did not hit Earth but rather disintegrated in a fiery explosion in the sky, over 1,000 people were injured but mainly as a result of shards of glass that struck them from the blast of the meteor’s explosion.

In a strange coincidence, the meteor explosion occurred on the same day that the asteroid 2012 DA14 was slated to pass by Earth 2-6 nearearthfurther causing panic. NASA personnel, including Don Yeomans, author of Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us and manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, assured the public that while the asteroid exploding over Russia was not predicted, the occurrence is in no way related to the 2012 DA14 asteroid. In an e-mail to Space.com, Yeomans explained that what exploded over Russia was in all likelihood an exploding fireball, also known as a bolide, and that it and the 2012 DA14 asteroid were not related at all. Yeomans told Space.com on Friday, “The asteroid will travel south to north. The bolide trail was not south to north and the separation in time between the fireball and 2012 DA14 close approach is significant.”

Even with these events so eerily close together, there still should be no worry for the end of the world any time soon. Yeomans said, “This kind of object does fall fairly frequently, but when they fall into the ocean or desert, there is no impact on people — so this one is unusual in the sense that it’s come over a populated area.” Hopefully if another NEO comes close to us again, it does not come as close this one.

A video of the meteor explosion

Also, here are some interesting articles about the meteor explosion and the 2012 DA14 asteroid:

“Russian Meteor Explosion Not Caused by Asteroid Flyby, NASA Scientist Says” via Space.com

“Asteroid 2012 DA14 – Earth Flyby Reality Check” via NASA.gov