Artist’s concept of the Deep Space Industries Firefly satellite (Image: Deep Space Industries)

Russian meteor strike prompts call for asteroid sentries

By David Szondy

February 15, 2013

On the same day that a meteor exploded over Russia injuring almost a thousand people and an asteroid passed too close to Earth for comfort, the asteroid-mining company Deep Space Industries (DSI) proposes setting up sentry lines in space to track and study rogue asteroids posing a threat to Earth. Using technology originally intended for prospecting for water and minerals on asteroids, the sentry lines of satellites would provide information for deflecting potentially dangerous near-Earth objects.

On Friday, February 15 at 9.26 a.m. local time, a rare instance of a meteor causing injuries and widespread damage occurred in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region. According to reports by Roscosmos and NASA, a meteor about two meters (6.6 ft) in diameter and weighing ten tonnes (11 ton) hit the Earth’s atmosphere traveling at least 33,000 mph (54,000 km/h) and causing a massive sonic boom as it passed over the populated areas.

NASA said at a teleconference that the meteor exploded in a bright flash 12-15 miles (19-24 km) above ground with the force of a 300 kiloton bomb, shattering windows, collapsing the wall of a warehouse at a zinc factory and knocking out mobile phone services.

At least 950 people are known to be injured, and as many as 1,200 reported, with 46 still in hospital, including 13 children who were hit with broken glass as their school’s windows blew in.

This strike happened on the same day as asteroid 2012 DA14 passed the Earth at 1925 GMT at a distance of 17,239 miles (27,743 kim) – the cosmic equivalent of a hair’s breadth.

Read more: Russian meteor strike prompts call for asteroid sentries — gizmag.

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