Football field-sized asteroid not linked to meteor explosion in Russia
Melbourne, Feb 16 : In a chilling coincidence, a meteor exploded above Russia's Ural Mountains just hours before a 45-metre asteroid was due to zoom past Earth.
Scientists the world over, along with NASA, insisted the meteor had nothing to do with the incoming asteroid since they appeared to travelling in opposite directions, News.com.au reported.
The asteroid is much more immense object that was expected to miss Earth by 27,600 kilometres, avoiding catastrophe.
But that's still closer than many communication and weather satellites; scientists insisted these, too, would be spared.
Asteroid 2012 DA14, as it's called, is too small to see with the naked eye even at its closest approach over the Indian Ocean near Sumatra.
By comparison, the meteor that emitted sonic blasts nearly 1600 kilometres east of Moscow, shattered windows and injured hundreds weighed an estimated 10 tonnes.
As for the back-to-back events, "this is indeed very rare and it is historic," Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary science said.
"These fireballs happen about once a day or so, but we just don't see them because many of them fall over the ocean or in remote areas. This one was an exception," he said on NASA TV.
As the countdown to Asteroid DA14's close approach entered the final hours, NASA noted on its website that the path of the meteor appeared to be quite different than that of the asteroid, making the two objects "completely unrelated."
The meteor seemed to be travelling from north to south, while the asteroid was due to pass from south to north - in the opposite direction.
And chances were extremely remote, they said, that it will run into any of the satellites orbiting 35,900 kilometres up.
Friday's meteor impact - just 16 hours in advance of DA14's point of closest encounter - further strengthened the asteroid-alert message.