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Capt. Mark Kelly weighs in on Russia's meteor & his perspective from space

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Capt. Mark Kelly weighs in on Russia's meteor & his perspective from space

CREATED Feb 15, 2013

Reporter: Maggie Vespa

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - As if seeing this all play out from the ground isn't terrifying enough, imagine what it would be like to see these rocks whizzing right by you in space.

It’s a perspective most of us can only dream about, but it's one Captain Mark Kelly has experienced with his own eyes.

So he says, if any good can come from this, it's better general knowledge of what causes these colossal rocks to collide with Earth and how we can stop it from happening again.

Even with a better understanding of what happened than most, seeing the scene over Southwest Russia, grabs Captain Mark Kelly like everybody else.

"To actually see that video of a meteor like that streaking across the sky and then debris like that winding up in buildings, that will get your attention," he said.

9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa caught up with the Captain Friday night at Tucson's Mostly Books.

There he hosted a signing for his children's book, "Moustronaut".

It features a main character with a name, all too timely.

"One mouse is smaller than all the rest, and his name is Meteor!" said Kelly, reading his book to the crowd.

But the former astronaut knows that name isn't so cute and cuddly, when you see its real-life impact.

“Do you talk about the possibility of something like this happening?" asked Vespa.

"Well, it's interesting when you're in a space craft, like a space shuttle or space station, one of the highest risks we have is being hit by some micro meteoroid.  A little tiny rock, nothing like the size of that rock," he said.

And during his time in space, Captain Kelly saw several close calls.

"You actually look down, and they're actually hitting the atmosphere underneath you, which means they're going by you," he said.

Still, he says even the smallest meteor, let alone one this size, could pose little to no threat as long as it's caught in time.

"Let's say we knew a couple years ahead of time, there's stuff we can do about it," said Kelly.  "We could potentially, in the right scenario, with the right amount of notice, nudge one of these things so that it would miss the planet."

So Captain Kelly hopes research into predicting such phenomenon flourishes fast.

"The need is always there," he said.  "We know the odds of a big rock hitting the planet and what it could potentially do.  "