Chelyabinsk Meteor: The Animated Movie

Researchers use an animation of the Chelyabinsk meteor strike to study how much energy it released into the atmosphere.

Now, scientists have created the first computer-simulated animation of the most well-recorded meteor impact in human history—thanks to cell phones and the dashboard cameras common in Russian cars. (See "Pictures: Meteorite Hits Russia.")

The flash of light from the Chelyabinsk meteor was bright enough to burn skin, and the impact generated a shock wave that shattered windows, injuring more than a thousand people.

The damage cost tens of millions of dollars, which is comparable to a typical presidentially declared state of emergency, said Clark Chapman of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, at a press conference during the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco this week.

Despite the damage, the meteor has been a trove of

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