Meteor strike injures hundreds in central Russia

BBC News reports: “A meteor crashing in Russia’s Ural mountains has injured at least 950 people, as the shockwave blew out windows and rocked buildings. Most of those hurt, in the Chelyabinsk region where the meteor fell, suffered cuts and bruises but at least 46 remain in hospital.

A fireball streaked through the clear morning sky, followed by loud bangs.

President Vladimir Putin said he thanked God no big fragments had fallen in populated areas.

A large meteor fragment landed in a lake near Chebarkul, a town in Chelyabinsk region.

The meteor’s dramatic passing was witnessed in Yekaterinburg, 200km (125 miles) to the north, and in Kazakhstan, to the south.

‘It was quite extraordinary,’ Chelyabinsk resident Polina Zolotarevskaya told BBC News. ‘We saw a very bright light and then there was a kind of a track, white and yellow in the sky.’

‘The explosion was so strong that some windows in our building and in the buildings that are across the road and in the city in general, the windows broke.’

Officials say a large meteor partially burned up in the lower atmosphere, resulting in fragments falling earthwards. Thousands of rescue workers have been dispatched to the area to provide help to the injured, the emergencies ministry said.

The Chelyabinsk region, about 1,500km (930 miles) east of Moscow, is home to many factories, a nuclear power plant and the Mayak atomic waste storage and treatment centre…” (“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” – Luke 21:25 – 27. See the next three reports.)

Jupiter’s Europa moon ‘likeliest to have life’

France24.com reports: “US astronomers looking for life in the solar system believe that Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, which has an ocean, is much more promising than desert-covered Mars, which is currently the focus of the US government’s attention.

‘Europa is the most likely place in our solar system beyond Earth to possess …. life,’ said Robert Pappalardo, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

‘And it is the place we should be exploring now that we have a concept mission we think is the right one to get there for an affordable cost,’ he continued.

‘Europa is the most promising in terms of habitability because of its relatively thin ice shelf and an ocean … And we know there are oxidants on the surface of Europa.’…”

Astronomers Find Possible Protoplanet Being Formed

Voice of America News reports: “An international team led by Swiss astronomer Sascha Quanz has made what could be the first direct observation of a planet in the process of being formed. It is still embedded in a thick disc of gas and dust encircling a relatively nearby young star – only about 335 light years from Earth.

The scientists expect that as the protoplanet continues to gather material from the disc over millions of years, it will develop into a gas giant similar to the planet Jupiter in our solar system.

Quanz notes that until now, computer simulations were the only way to study planet formation. But using the advanced optics of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope and new image analysis techniques, astronomers were able to see a faint blob in the circumstellar disc. If his team’s finding is confirmed, astronomers would be able to test their theories against an observable target.

Although a protoplanet is the most likely explanation for the observations, the results of this study require follow-up observations to rule out other possibilities and confirm the existence of the planet…”