‘Unconfirmed Reports’: Meteorite blown up by missile over Russia?

Published: February 15th, 2013 at 2:22 am ET
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Follow-up to: Updates: Video reveals strange blasts during 'meteorite rain' over Russia -- Explosions in lower atmosphere -- Over 500 reported injured -- Only hours before asteroid due to make close flyby

Gizmodo: What’s more incredible: unconfirmed reports say that an air defense unit fired a missile as the meteor entered Russian airspace at supersonic speeds, shattering it to pieces. [...] The Russian Emergency Ministry says that there are 20,000 rescue workers deployed in the area. Aircrafts are now flying over the area looking for impacts.

Gawker: UPDATE: RT is now reporting, citing unconfirmed military sources, that the meteorite was intercepted by Russian air defense forces, who reportedly used a missile to destroy it while it was still 20 km in the air.

The Verge: It’s unclear what could have caused the explosions. Unconfirmed reports from Russia Today, a less than reliable source at the best of times, suggest that a meteor was blown away by a surface-to-air missile salvo, but there’s little evidence of that from the videos we’re seeing. A writer at ScienceBlogs, attempting to explain the notorious Tunguska incident that occurred in Russia over a century ago, provided an account of how meteors could explode in the atmosphere, but it’s little more than speculation in this case.

Russia Today: According to unconfirmed reports, the meteorite was intercepted by an air defense unit at the Urzhumka settlement near Chelyabinsk. A missile salvo reportedly blew the meteorite to pieces at an altitude of 20 kilometers.

Voice of Russia: The regional Emergency Ministry said the phenomenon was a meteorite shower, but locals have speculated that it was a military fighter jet crash or a missile explosion.

CBS News: Reports conflicted on the event: A spokeswoman for Russia’s Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told The Associated Press there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteorite. The ministry said some fragments fell near the town of Satka, about 120 miles from the regional capital city of Chelyabinsk.

Russia Today News: The biggest issue right now is the falling debris and the black smoke that people are reporting that is hanging in the air.

Gizmodo: I doubt their air defense had the time to detect and target an object that appeared out of nowhere, from space. There’s also one single trail. If a missile actually hit anything, there would be multiple trails following the debris. More likely, the meteor exploded before hitting the ground because of the enormous heat generated by the compression of air in front of the meteor or asteroid. This phenomenon is called asteroid airburst or bolide.

RT: ­12:24 GMT: The military had nothing to do with the aerial meteorite explosion, the Urals Emergency Ministry said: “Russia’s defense ministry took no action connected to the incident. No aircrafts has been registered in the air at the given period of time.” Earlier, there were unconfirmed reports that the military had shot down the falling meteorite, shattering it into pieces.

More video here

Published: February 15th, 2013 at 2:22 am ET
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