On February 17th a near-Earth asteroid (NEA), 2000 EM26, with an estimated diameter of three football fields (270 meters) and traveling at approximately 27,000 mph (12.37 km/s), will come racing by Earth on its close approach. This is a subtle reminder of the dangers of asteroid impacts just one year after two historic events took place on February 15, 2013.
One year ago, an undiscovered asteroid tore through the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, damaging thousands of houses, breaking innumerable windows, and causing injuries from broken glass. The bolide was calculated to be 65 ft (20 m) in diameter and exploded 18 miles above Siberia releasing the equivalent energy of more than 20 plus atomic bombs (approximately 460 kilotons of TNT).
Also on Feb. 15, 2013, the world witnessed two amazing events – one expected and the other not. Astronomers anticipated the arrival of NEO (near earth asteroid) 2012 DA14, a 40,000 ton space rock 98 ft (30 m) in diameter expected to miss Earth by 17,200 miles (27,680 km) – closer than geosynchronous satellites. In fact, NEA 2012 DA14 was the closest object of that size to whiz past Earth in our lifetimes.
To commemorate the 2013 Feb. 15th event, the Russian government announced the first ten gold medals for winners on February 15th at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will be embedded with Chelyabinsk meteor fragments.
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