MONTREAL - The meteor that streaked across the sky above the Ural Mountains in Russia on Friday and caused several hundred injuries caught Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield off guard.

Hadfield, who is aboard the International Space Station on a five-month visit, said he missed the big event from his vantage point in outer space.

"We weren't in a position to see that meteorite do all that damage in Russia," he told University of Waterloo students during a video link-up Friday.

The space rock, estimated to weigh about 10 tonnes, caused sharp explosions as it streaked across the sky. There were reports that more than 1,000 people were injured, mostly due to broken glass.

Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, who joined students for the chat with Hadfield, tried to offer his own assurances.

"This isn't new news," the rookie astronaut said. "The Earth is struck by objects all the time. In fact about 100 tonnes of debris hits our planet every day (and) most of it doesn't pose a threat to us."

Phil Langill, an astronomer and University of Calgary physics professor, said the meteor "snuck in under the radar."

He added that to be able to spot such a meteor beforehand, "you would have to be just really lucky."

"You have to have the right equipment looking in the right direction, at the right time, with the sun in the right angle, no clouds," Langill said in an interview.

He said space rocks like meteors are usually visible when they reflect sunlight, but a lot of them are dark.

The Russian Academy of Sciences said the meteor was going at at least 54,000 kilometres an hour when it entered the Earth's atmosphere. It shattered between about 30 and 50 kilometres above the ground.

Langill also pointed out that, luckily, the Russian meteor made a long streak across the atmosphere and did not come straight down toward the Earth.

"The more air that it passes through, the more it'll burn up in the air and the less of it will hit the ground, said Langill, who is also director of the Calgary-area Rothney Astrophysical Observatory.

He added it could have been worse had the meteor slammed into the ground.

"It's hard to put a hard number on these things, but certainly a crater the size of a city block probably would have resulted," Langill said, adding he wants to analyze the data.

One Canadian who experienced the meteor crash up close was Saskatoon native Michael Garnett.

The walls of Garnett's apartment in Chelyabinsk — the biggest city affected — shook wildly as he heard glass shattering and car alarms going off outside.

"My light fixtures were swaying back and forth,'' said Garnett, who plays in the professional Kontinental Hockey League for the Traktor Chelyabinsk.

''At that point I was just terrified."

When he was able to collect himself, the 30-year-old looked out his window and saw a trace of the meteor that had torn through the sky moments earlier.

"It was like a bomb went off. You drive down the street and you look up at the apartments, and a lot of these buildings are from the Soviet era, and there's just windows blown out. It's just crazy."

The meteor is not to be confused with an asteroid about the half the size of a football field that safely brushed past the Earth on Friday.

The asteroid was projected to come within of 27,600 kilometres of the planet — close enough to pass inside the ring of satellites that circle the Earth.

The European Space Agency, in a post on its Twitter account, said its experts had determined there was no connection between the meteor and the asteroid.

Astronomers say they were coming in different directions.

— With a report from Diana Mehta in Toronto

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  • In this frame grab made from a video done with a dashboard camera, on a highway from Kostanai, Kazakhstan, to Chelyabinsk region, Russia, provided by Nasha Gazeta newspaper, on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 a meteorite contrail is seen. A meteor streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring around 100 people, including many hurt by broken glass. (AP Photo/Nasha gazeta, www.ng.kz)

  • In this photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru a meteorite contrail is seen over Chelyabinsk on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. A meteor streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring around 100 people, including many hurt by broken glass. (AP Photo/Chelyabinsk.ru)

  • In this photo provided by E1.ru a meteorite contrail is seen over a vilage of Bolshoe Sidelnikovo 50 km of Chelyabinsk on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. A meteor streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring around 100 people, including many hurt by broken glass. (AP Photo/ Nadezhda Luchinina, E1.ru)

  • In this frame grab made from a video done with a dashboard camera a meteor streaks through the sky over Chelyabinsk, about 1500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. A meteor that scientists estimate weighed 10 tons (11 tons) streaked at supersonic speed over Russia's Ural Mountains on Friday, setting off blasts that injured some 500 people and frightened countless more. (AP Photo/AP Video)

  • A man in Moscow looks at a computer screen displaying a picture reportedly taken in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk on February 15, 2013, showing the trail of a meteorite above a residential area of the city. A heavy meteor shower rained down today on central Russia, sowing panic as the hurtling space debris smashed windows and injured dozens of stunned locals, officials said. AFP PHOTO / YURI KADOBNOV

  • In this photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru a woman cleans away glass debris from a window after a meteorite explosion over Chelyabinsk region on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. A meteor exploded in the sky above Russia on Friday, causing a shockwave that blew out windows injuring hundreds of people and sending fragments falling to the ground in the Ural Mountains. The Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement hours after the Friday morning fall that the meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph) and shattered about 30-50 kilometers (18-32 miles) above ground. The fall caused explosions that broke glass over a wide area. (AP Photo/ Yevgenia Yemelyanova, Chelyabinsk.ru)

  • A local resident repairs a window broken by a shock wave from a meteor explosion in Chelyabinsk, about 1500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. A meteor that scientists estimate weighed 10 tons (11 tons) streaked at supersonic speed over Russia's Ural Mountains on Friday, setting off blasts that injured some 500 people and frightened countless more. (AP Photo/Boris Kaulin)

  • Cars pass by a zinc factory building with it's roof collapsed in Chelyabinsk, about 1500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. There was no immediate clarification of whether the collapse was caused by meteorites or by a shock wave from one of the explosions. A meteor that scientists estimate weighed 10 tons (11 tons) streaked at supersonic speed over Russia's Ural Mountains on Friday, setting off blasts that injured some 500 people and frightened countless more. (AP Photo/Boris Kaulin)

  • In this photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru municipal workers repair damaged electric power circuit outside a zinc factory building with about 600 square meters (6000 square feet) of a roof collapsed after a meteorite exploded over in Chelyabinsk region on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 A meteor streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring around 100 people, including many hurt by broken glass. (AP Photo/ Oleg Kargapolov, Chelyabinsk.ru)

  • In this photo taken with a mobile phone camera, a meteorite contrail is seen in Chelyabinsk region on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. A meteor streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring around 100 people, including many hurt by broken glass. (AP Photo/Sergey Hametov)

  • In this photo taken with a mobile phone camera, a meteorite contrail is seen in Chelyabinsk region on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. A meteor streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring around 100 people, including many hurt by broken glass. (AP Photo/Sergey Hametov)

  • FILE - In this 1953 file photo, trees lie strewn across the Siberian countryside 45 years after a meteorite struck the Earth near Tunguska, Russia. The 1908 explosion is generally estimated to have been about 10 megatons; it leveled some 80 million trees for miles near the impact site. The meteor that streaked across the Russian sky Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, is estimated to be about 10 tons. It exploded with the power of an atomic bomb over the Ural Mountains, about 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) west of Tunguska. (AP Photo, File)