NASA: Meteor explosion in Russia had nothing to do with asteroid flyby

Posted by Shane McGlaun

The scientific community is aflutter after reports, images, and video of a massive meteor explosion in Russia clogged the Internet early Friday morning.

According to reports, the meteor exploded with enough force that numerous buildings were damaged when the explosion blew the glass windows out of their frames. Reports also indicate that over 500 people were injured by cuts due to the flying glass.

The massive meteor explosion over Russia occurred at a time when scientists around the world are gearing up for a massive asteroid to pass cosmically "close" to the Earth today. However, an asteroid expert from NASA named Don Yeomans, who heads the NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office, said the explosion over Russia has nothing to do with the asteroid that will pass by the Earth today.

"If the reports of ground damage can be verified, it might suggest an object whose original size was several meters in extent before entering the atmosphere, fragmenting and exploding due to the unequal pressure on the leading side vs the trailing side (it pancaked and exploded)," Yeomans told SPACE.com in an email. "It is far too early to provide estimates of the energy released or provide a reliable estimate of the original size."

The asteroid set to buzz the Earth today has been dubbed "2012 DA14." NASA scientist points out that DA14 will travel south to north as it passes within 17,200 miles of Earth. The meteorite that exploded over Russia did not travel south to north and the scientist says that separation in time between the Russian meteor and the 2012 DA14 is significant.

"The asteroid will travel south to north," Yeomans said. "The [Russian] bolide trail was not south to north and the separation in time between the fireball and 2012 DA14 close approach is significant."