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    Meteorite crashes into Russia's Ural Mountain region

    6:20 AM, Feb 15, 2013   |    comments
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    CHELYABINSK, RUSSIA (CBS) -- More than 400 people were injured when a meteorite struck an area in the Ural Mountain region in Russia.

     A loud explosion and a fiery contrail were evidence of a meteorite that rocked a Russian town nearly a thousand miles east of Moscow.
    The explosion shattered windows injuring hundreds and at least three people were hospitalized in serious condition. A zinc factory was almost completely destroyed. The meteor caught everyone off-guard. CBS News contributor Dr. Michio Kaku says, "An object the size of a house or car cannot be seen by telescopes. They creep up right behind you and catch you off-guard."

    The meteor is leading some to question if it might be related to an asteroid headed toward earth today. Kaku says, "There's a possibility that it may even be connected to the asteroid 2012 DA 14."

    President Obama's scientific adviser John Holdren has been briefing the White House as the asteroid known as 2012 DA 14 approaches. Scientists at NASA and even the Pentagon will be paying close attention. Dr. Denton Ebel with the American Museum of Natural History says, "We'll get much better data as it comes by."

    Researchers are hoping this asteroid can help them learn how to avoid collisions with larger ones, which could destroy the earth.

    Astronomers have identified 1,400 "potentially hazardous asteroids," which is just 10-percent of the most dangerous asteroids out there.

    2012 DA 14 will pass within 17,200 miles from earth. To put that in perspective, that's closer than the satellite that's beaming this television signal right now.

    The European Space Agency post on Twitter account that its experts do not believe the meteorite is connected to the asteroid, 2012 DA 14.

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