Meteor that exploded over Russia called 'wake-up call' for Earth

Nov. 6, 2013 at 5:37 PM
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DAVIS, Calif., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- The meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February should be seen as "a wake-up call," a U.S. scientist taking part in a study of the event says.

"If humanity does not want to go the way of the dinosaurs, we need to study an event like this in detail," said Qing-Zhu Yin, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of California, Davis.

Modern technology from consumer video cameras to advanced laboratory techniques give an unprecedented opportunity to study the event, the largest meteoroid strike since the Tunguska explosion in Siberia in 1908, researchers say.

The Chelyabinsk meteorite was the most common type of meteorite, an "ordinary chondrite," and if a catastrophic meteorite strike were to occur in the future it would most likely be an object of this type, Yin said.

Major meteorite strikes such as Tunguska or Chelyabinsk occur more frequently than people tend to think, Yin said, noting 4 tons of material were recovered from a meteor shower in Jilin, China, in 1976.

But the Russian impact is probably the best chance to make a detailed study of such events, he said.

"Chelyabinsk serves as unique calibration point for high-energy meteorite impact events for our future studies," he said, adding that technology for early detection of such objects is needed.

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