NASA Detects Giant Meteor Explosion Over Bering Sea

NASA found a large meteor explosion that occurred over the Bering Sea

Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at Nasa, told the BBC that a fireball of its size is only expected two or three times every century.

Nobody saw or was even aware of the fireball that exploded above the Bering Sea on December 18, 2018-until now.

Scientists only recently pinpointed the blast - the third-largest known meteor explosion - by triangulating readings from infrasound stations, which pick up low-frequency noises that humans can't hear, New Scientist says.

The object, which would have been several metres in diameter, hit the atmosphere at about 32kms (over 71,000 mph), and exploded around 25.6km (16 miles) above the Earth's surface.

NASA said that though the meteor didn't reach the ground, the explosion was estimated to be more powerful than the atomic bomb that detonated over the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 during World War II.

She gave details of the blast at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference near Houston, Texas. It remained at first unnoticed by NASA, but the agency was later notified by the US Air Force about the blast.

NASA’s Near Earth Object Camera, which can help locate potentially hazardous asteroids
NASA’s Near Earth Object Camera, which can help locate potentially hazardous asteroids

"That's another thing we have in our defense, there's plenty of water on the planet", Fast said. Despite its vast emptiness off Russian Federation, the route is frequented by airlines. So researchers have been checking with airlines to see if there were any reported sightings of the event.

In June 2018, the small 3m asteroid 2018 LA was discovered by a ground-based observatory in Arizona eight hours before impact.

The recent incident has uncovered a loophole that NASA is attempting to fix: large-enough space rocks on a collision course with Earth that can affect entire regions on land. Fragments of the object were later found in the area.

The December explosion above the Bering Sea shows larger objects can collide with us without warning and highlighted the need for enhanced monitoring. "But if you have an IR-based (infrared) telescope, it goes a lot faster", Amy Mainzer, chief scientist on the NeoCam project, said.

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