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Russians Still Searching for Meteorite Fragments, Scientists Raise Estimates of Size, Mass and Energy Release

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 16-Feb-2013
Updated: 16-Feb-2013 06:28 PM

Russian authorities continue to search for fragments from the meteor that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk yesterday, but with no luck so far.  In the meantime, scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are revising upwards their estimates of the meteor's size, mass and energy release based on additional data.

Witnesses believe that part of the meteor landed in Lake Cherbarkul, but divers found no trace of it today according to Russia's RIA Novosti.   Russian media reports vary on the number of people injured by the effects of the shock wave created as the meteor streaked across the sky at about 9:20 am local time yesterday.   Most agree that it was between 1,000 and 1,200, mostly injured by broken glass.  Many residents apparently ran to windows to see what was happening as the meteor streaked by.   The New York Times quoted a woman as describing the light as "unreal" and "a light which never happens in life; it happens only in the end of the world."

The shock wave came next and since many people were standing next to windows, breaking glass caused a host of injuries. 

Meanwhile, JPL scientists now believe it was 17 meters instead of 15 meters in diameter, had a mass of 10,000 tons rather than 7,000 tons, and released 500 kilotons of energy instead of 300 kilotons.   The earlier data, reported in a media teleconference yesterday, was based on data from four Infrasound stations that are part of a global network of sensors that monitors compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.  Data from five more stations are now available, allowing the refined estimates.

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