Huge Russian Meteor Blast is Biggest Since 1908 (Infographic)

Infographic: huge meteor explosion over Russia is compared to the Tunguska event
The Feb. 15, 2013 meteor blast over Chelaybinsk damaged hundreds of buildings and injured more than a thousand people. (Image credit: Karl Tate, contributor)


A rock from space about 55 feet across (17 meters) entered Earth's atmosphere early on the morning of Feb. 15, 2013.

After traveling through the air for 32.5 seconds, the meteor was moving at about 40,000 mph (64,373 km/h) when it disintegrated. The explosion caused a massive shock wave that damaged hundreds of buildings and injured more than 1,000 people in the Chelyabinsk region. There was no advance warning before the meteor appeared in the sky.

Before entering the atmosphere, the object weighed about 10,000 tons. An early estimate of the energy of the Russian meteor explosion is that it equaled about 30 atomic bombs of the type used on Hiroshima in World War II.

The Russian meteor is second only to an explosion that occurred in Siberia in 1908. In the so-called Tunguska event, a 130-foot-wide (40 m) object exploded, flattening trees over an 825-square-mile area (2,137 square km).  Even larger impacts from space occurred before recorded human history.

The solar system was shaped by even bigger impacts from space. Fifty thousand years ago, a rock about 150 feet wide (46 meters) crashed into what is now Arizona. The crater is 0.7 mile in diameter (1.2 km). Impacts have occurred since the beginning of our solar system. In 1994, the planet Jupiter was assaulted by fragments from comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

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Karl Tate contributor

Karl's association with goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. From 2010 to 2016, Karl worked as an infographics specialist across all editorial properties of Purch (formerly known as TechMediaNetwork).  Before joining, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University and now works as a freelance graphic designer in New York City.