UBC researcher describes Russian fireball as “phenomenal scientific event”
A dramatic blast in the sky over Russia could present scientists with a golden opportunity to study material from outer space, a UBC researcher says.
“I think there’s a lot of potential for scientific follow-up. Being able to retrieve fragments of a meteorite that has freshly fallen has tremendous scientific value,” astrobiologist Haley Sapers told the Straight by phone.
News reports say an airborne object exploded today (February 15) in the Ural Mountains region causing hundreds of injuries and damaging buildings.
“Unfortunately there were a number of people that were injured in Russia due to the shockwave, due to the blast,” Sapers said. “That’s very unfortunate. I’m sure we’re all thinking about those people and their families right now.”
Sapers said the earth is being struck by meteorites on a daily basis, but most of these are particle-sized objects.
“Waking up tomorrow and having all the windows in Vancouver blown out, that’s not going to happen. They are rare, isolated events,” she said of the incident in Russia.
“They are also phenomenal scientific events. There’s a lot of information that can be learned and I think we should look at this as an amazing opportunity to study pieces of material from the far reaches of the solar system.”
Sapers, who holds a PhD in planetary science from the University Western Ontario, is a visiting researcher at UBC.