Meteor that exploded over Earth more powerful than Hiroshima bomb, NASA says

Katie Ramirez
March 19, 2019

The space rock, which blew up 15.91 miles above our planet's surface, had an impact energy of 173 kilotons, which could give other atomic bombs a run for their money.

Data shows the asteroid barrelled through the atmosphere on a steep trajectory of seven degrees at about noon on December 18.

A meteor exploded over the Bering Sea previous year, creating the second largest recorded fireball in three decades, according to NASA.

It's understood to be the second biggest explosion of its kind in the last 30 years - the largest being over Chelyabinsk in 2013.

Kelly Fast, the near-Earth objects observations programme manager at NASA, spoke about the incredible discovery at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, near Houston, in Texas.

"That's another thing we have in our defense, there's plenty of water on the planet".

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Nasa received information about the blast from the USA air force after military satellites detected visible and infrared light from the fireball in December. NASA scientist Kelly Fast delivered the news at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in the USA state of Texas this week. Dr Johnson said that the fireball entered the atmosphere over an area close to routes used by commercial planes from North America to Asia and back.

NASA is checking with airlines to see if there were any reported sightings.

Using the satellite data, it is estimated that the space rock measured some 10 meters (33 feet) in diameter, with a mass of around 1,400 tons, meaning it did not meet NASA's 140-meter lower limit for asteroids to be classified as unsafe near-Earth objects. Space rocks of this size are so-called "problems without passports" because they are expected to affect whole regions if they collide with Earth. The real danger, NASA says, comes from near-Earth objects (NEOs) that have a diameter of more than 460 ft.

Just as the calculation suggested, a fireball was recorded over Botswana by security camera footage on a farm.

In a test of the concept, a telescope called NeoCam will be launched to a gravitational balance point in space.

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