The Meteorite Explosion that Shook Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, 2013


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Russian Meteor
A meteor seen flying over Russia on Feb. 15 at 3:20: 26 UTC impacted Chelyabinsk.

A meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, at 7:20:26 PM PST, or 10:20:26 PM EST on February 14 (3:20:26 UTC on February 15).

At a news conference on Friday, NASA scientists said the object was a “tiny asteroid”. The trajectory of this meteor differed appreciably from the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, which hours later made its flyby of Earth, making both objects completely unrelated.

The Russian Emergency Ministry described it as a shower of meteorite debris. However, some unconfirmed reports suggested that Russian air defenses shot down a meteorite. NASA asteroid expert Don Yeomans, head of the agency’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, said that the object which exploded was most likely an exploding fireball known as a bolide.

According to the preliminary information that appeared in the media unidentified flying objects exploded over several cities in Russia, and the object at Chelyabinsk measured 49 feet (15 meters) across, weighing 7,000 tons and released 30 kilotons of energy when it exploded, and the blast waves blew out window glass of buildings in Chelyabinsk, sending dozens to hospitals, disrupted mobile services, and reportedly injured more than 1,000 people. Many dashboard videos appeared online, showing huge fireballs flying over buildings and exploding with a strong blast. Some walls of the Chelyabinsk Zinc Factory that produced 160,000 metric tons of refined zinc and alloys last year collapsed with extensive damage to the plant.

Now NASA says information provided by a worldwide network of sensors has allowed scientists to revise their estimates for the size of the object before entering Earth’s atmosphere to 55 feet (17 meters), weighing about 10,000 tons. Bill Cooke, head of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama said the energy released during the explosion amounted to 500 kilotons equal to that of an exploding modern nuclear bomb.

Fresh data collected from five more infrasound stations located around the world helped to generate these new estimates. The first infra-sound recording of the event took place in Alaska – over 6,500 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk. Calculations performed by Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, using infrasound data show the time taken by the object from entering the atmosphere to its disintegration in the air took 32.5 seconds.

Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said, “We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average ”

The present Russia meteor is the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia.

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‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius Charged with Murder of His Girlfriend


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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File photo of South Africa's Oscar Pistorius starting his men's 400m round 1 heats at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium
South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius starts his men’s 400m round 1 heats at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in this August 4, 2012. (Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

On Friday, 15th February, South African prosecutors formally charged “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee and one of the world’s most admired South African Olympians with shooting and killing his girlfriend, fashion model Reeva Steenkamp, in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.

This gruesome incident has shocked the world, and it has cast a shadow over the sportsman fondly known as the “Blade Runner” for his achievements using prosthetic limbs. On Thursday, Nike removed an advertisement from its website featuring Pistorius taking off for a run with the slogan “I am the bullet in the chamber.” The company issued a statement expressing sympathy and condolences to the families concerned and added that it would not comment further, noting that the situation is a police matter.

Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp pose for a picture in Johannesburg
Oscar Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp pose for a picture in Johannesburg, February 7, 2013. (Photo: REUTERS/Thembani Makhubele)

The Afrikaans newspaper Die Beeldt reported that Pistorius shot Reeva four times through a bathroom door in the hand, the pelvis, the chest and the head.

At Pretoria Magistrates Court, prosecutors told chief magistrate Desmond Nair that they would argue that Oscar Pistorius committed “premeditated murder” on February 14 at his upscale home at the Silver Woods secure housing estate in Pretoria.

When formally charged with one count of murder, Pistorius buried his head in his hands and cried silently. His defense lawyer said that Pistorius was in an “extremely traumatized state of mind.”

South African "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius is escorted by police at a Pretoria police station
“Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius escorted by police at a Pretoria police station February 14, 2013. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Magistrate Nair postponed the application by the defense for bail until Tuesday and placed Pistorius in police custody.

Initial media reports said that Pistorius shot his girlfriend accidentally, thinking she was an intruder; however, on Thursday, a police spokeswoman discounted the media reports, and added that officers were investigating “previous allegations of a domestic nature.”

The police said when the shooting took place early Thursday in Pistorius’ home only the two of them were there. According to local media, the neighbors hearing a loud argument called the Police to Pistorius’ home just past midnight. Two hours later, around 3:00 a.m., the neighbors called the Police again after the shooting.

On Friday, Pistorius’ family and his management released a statement from London: “The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms,” and added that Pistorius “would like to send his deepest sympathies to the family of Reeva.”

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