Nasa detects ‘huge’ meteor explosion over Earth
The blast was around ten times more powerful than Hiroshima atomic bomb
A huge meteor entered Earth’s atmosphere in December and exploded with ten times the force of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, Nasa has revealed.
The blast was the second-largest of its kind in the past century, behind a meteor that exploded over the Russian region of Chelyabinsk six years ago, reports Sky News.
But the recent explosion went largely unnoticed because it occurred above the Bering Sea, off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula in northern Russia, says the BBC.
The meteor measured “several metres in diameter” and entered the atmosphere on 18 December at a speed of 32km/s (71,600mph) on a “steep trajectory of seven degrees”, the broadcaster says.
It then exploded about 16 miles above the Earth’s surface, with an impact energy of 173 kilotonnes.
According to Lindley Johnson, Nasa’s planetary defence officer, the meteor exploded near a flight route commonly used by commercial airlines.
Researchers are now quizzing airlines about whether they witnessed the explosion.
Meteorites and asteroids of various sizes “pelt the Earth on a regular basis” but are usually too small to “cause widespread destruction”, the Daily Express notes.
The most recent strike to cause significant damage was that in Chelyabinsk, which was hit by a meteor measuring around 20 metres in diameter on 15 February 2013.
The blast damaged more than 7,000 buildings and injured around 1,000 people, many of whom were standing near windows to record the meteor on their phones.
It was the largest such event since 1908, where a meteor destroyed 770 square miles of Siberian forest, says Sky.