Data From Russian Impact Shows Damage Is Less Than Originally Believed

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — The people of earth should prepare for more frequent encounters with asteroids, according to scientists.

On Wednesday night, a meteor shower lit up the sky and in February an asteroid careened across the Russian sky at 40,000 mph.

When the 60-foot wide asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk it unleashed enough energy to shred buildings, shatter windows and injure hundreds of people. It was a rare event, but scientists said that people should prepare to see more asteroids in the future.

Denton Ebel curates meteorites at the American Museum of Natural History. Ebel told CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock that data coming from the Chelyabinsk asteroid have given scientists a much better understanding of what is out there.

“It was a big day for asteroid science, meteorite science. But, it was also a wake-up call,” Ebel said, “There are many more objects in the 10 to 50 meter range than we had thought which means the probability of hitting them is higher.”

New calculations suggest that similarly sized asteroids could strike every 10 or 20 years, a notion that made some people uneasy.

“Scary, scary. I guess live life to the fullest,” Steven Arroyo said.

Ebel called another impact near a large population of people unlikely.

“Only about 7-percent of the earth is covered with cities. That makes it unlikely we’d witness another impact like this one, so close to so many, in our lifetime,” he explained, “I don’t think people should be afraid of meteorites hitting them. It’s very, very, very rare.”

Most people told CBS 2 that they were not afraid.

“These things don’t bother me. Acts of god are acts of god,” Stan Schnier said,”I’m not going to get a rock proof, meteor proof, umbrella.”

Data showed that the amount of damage caused by an exploding asteroid is less than originally thought.

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