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NASA: Russia meteor dust plume wound around Earth for months

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    Daniel Martins
    Digital Reporter

    Saturday, August 17, 2013, 11:52 AM -

    We knew the meteor that exploded over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk on February 15 was big.

    At 18 metres in length and weighing more than 11,000 tonnes, it was clocking in at around 67,000 kilometres per hour when it blew up over Chelyabinsk with a force 30 times stronger than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

    The blast shattered glass all across the city and caused hundreds of injuries, and was captured on plenty of cameras, so it's all over YouTube, but now NASA scientists say they've actually managed to track the hundreds of tons of dust it left in the atmosphere.

    The huge dust plume took only four days to wind once around the planet, and was actually detectable by NASA's Suomi satellite more than three months later.

    Atmospheric physicist Nick Gorkavyi, who is actually from Chelyabinsk originally, spent months analyzing the data along with his colleagues.

    NASA says the meteor was much smaller than the 10-kilometre long rock that hit the earth in prehistoric times with the force of a billion atom bombs, and Gorkavyi says the Chelyabinsk event was one of the best observed, thanks to modern technologies.

    "Of course, the Chelyabinsk bolide is much smaller than the 'dinosaur killer,' and this is good: We have the unique opportunity to safely study a potentially very dangerous type of event," he said in a release.

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