They came from outer space.
On 15 February this year, Earth is bombarded by space rocks – one a near miss, the other a direct hit. The events are unrelated (the orbits of the two attackers are very different), and scientists estimate the odds of this happening on the same day at one in 100 000. Here’s what we know about the day that made astronomical history. – SARAH FECHT
15 February, 5:20 am SA time
An explosion rocks Chelyabinsk, Russia. A meteor the length of a large truck crashes through the atmosphere and detonates in the air, releasing 30 times more energy than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, partially collapsing several buildings. More than 1 000 people are injured by the blast; the streak of light in the sky brings them to windows just before the glass-shattering sonic boom erupts.
Size (in meters): 16,7
Weight (tons): 9 980
Speed (kilometers per second): 18
15 February, 9.25 pm SA time
A 45 m-wide asteroid, DA14, swings to within 27 000 km of Earth, closer than satellites in geostationary orbit and any other known asteroid since sky surveys began. Spanish astronomers first spotted DA14 in February 2012 and calculated a preliminary estimate (one in 3030) for the asteroid to hit Earth. DA14’s orbital period around the Sun has been shortened by Earth’s gravity from 366 to 317 days. Luckily, its next visit won’t be as close.
Size (in meters): 45,7
Weight (tons): 99 790
Composition: Organic compounds, silicates, oxides, sulphides
Speed (kilometers per second): 7,7
In case you missed it, check out the video of the Russian meteor.