Last Friday, that meteor that exploded over Russia was clearly the number one story on the Internet. How could it not be? 1,000 people were sent to the hospital by an exploding meteor, and, best of all, the glorious bout of interstellar fireworks was recorded from multiple angles in YouTube-ready clips all over the nation, because Russia is obsessed with dash-cams.
And that's what made the whole thing so much more fun than any other run-of-the-mill sensational internet-embraced event—we could hit play on clip after clip, seeing what the aerial invader looked like from the highway, from faraway, from a parking lot. So, in the spirit of preserving this amateur videographer's bout of meteoric good-timery, in providing a little hair of the dog from your inevitable post-weekend bolide comedown, I've rounded up a few similarly spectacular video clips of other things that have exploded dramatically whilst entering the atmosphere. Hope this helps.
Hayabusa Spacecraft Explosion
This, for instance, is not a meteor exploding upon entry into Earth's atmosphere, but a Japanese spacecraft, the Hayabusa, exploding upon reentry. The Hayabusa had been launched to explore a near earth asteroid in 2003. When it returned in 2010, all astronomic eyes were on it—it was expected to explode as it did, which is why NASA scientists were able to train its cameras on the reentry point to catch the spectacular explosion on film.
National Geographic explains what happened next: "Hayabusa and its return capsule were visible as twin, incandescent fireballs for about a minute to anyone within roughly 100 to 200 miles (200 to 300 kilometers) of the reentry point. The spacecraft's trajectory, however, did not take it over any heavily populated areas."
The Fireball Meteorite That Plagued Peru
This meteorite turned into a dramatic fireball as it plunged towards Cusco, Peru. It eventually landed, creating a massive crater outside the city. A local official said that "boiling water started coming out of the crater, and particles of rock and cinders were found nearby." Villagers said it emitted a "sickeningly smelly gas" which eventually sent 600 people to the hospital. And NBC reported at the time that "sulfur or other elements in the space rock may have reacted with the ground water to produce noxious fumes."
Australia's YouTube-Ready Meteor Flash
This one is a classic exercise in YouTube clip framing—it opens with a totally unsuspecting old lady unknowingly on the verge of experiencing something extremely startling. That startling thing turned out to be an unusually bright meteor visible from Perth, Australia.
Canadian Police Catch a Meteor on the Dash Cam
In the spirit of the Russia's documenting the meteor with dash-cams, here's a five year-old precedent from Canada. The Edmonton PD caught this stunning meteor exploding low in the sky in 2008.
Big Brother Records an Explosion in the Sky
South Africa's CCTV cameras caught this exploding meteor lighting up the Johannesburg skies.