Massive Meteor Explosion Detected By NASA

Giant meteor explosion over Earth a year ago went unnoticed till recently

US detects huge meteor explosion

NASA is also working with the US government to monitor these type of space rock explosions: In 2005, Congress requested that NASA find 90 percent of near-Earth asteroids that are 140 meters or larger in size by next year.

On March 8, Peter Brown, a professor of astronomy at Western University in London, Ont., was looking through low-frequency sound data gathered automatically by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization when he noticed that an explosive event of unusual force had occurred on December 18, centred on a point about 300 kilometres off the coast of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.

An explosion packing 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima nuclear bomb has been detected after a meteor hit the Earth's atmosphere - the second largest blast of its kind in 30 years.

Air-burst events for meteors of a certain size are actually fairly common.

Peter Brown, a meteor specialist at Western University in Canada, spotted the blast independently in measurements made by global monitoring stations.

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

This artistic visualization shows a collision near the star Vega
Representational image. Image courtesy NASA

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. That meteor was about 66-feet wide travelling at about 40,000 miles per hour. It blew up on December 18 almost 16 miles above Earth's surface after entering the planet's atmosphere. The blast measured 173 kilotons - for reference, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima only measured 15 kilotons.

The Earth is regularly pelted by comets and asteroids but it is rare to have objects this big to approach the planet.

They added that the piece may have broken off because of the stress caused by the gravitational pull of the planets and the sun, or could have been caused by the asteroid hitting into something else during its orbit.

While no one witnessed the event, which occurred behind overcast skies, images from a Japanese weather satellite posted on Monday appear to have captured the fireball.

The rock broke up into at least three large pieces as scientists began lifting it from the ground with the help of levers and ropes.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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