Tuesday, 21 May, 2019


Meteor blast over Bering Sea was 10 times size of Hiroshima

Enlarge Image iStock Enlarge Image iStock
Kristine Garrett | 19 March, 2019, 05:10

Unlike the Chelyabinsk meteor, which was captured on CCTV, mobile phones and vehicle dashboard cameras, the December arrival from outer space went largely unnoticed at the time because it exploded in such a remote location.

Details of the meteoric explosion over the Bering Sea, off Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, last December, have only just begun to emerge.

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

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.

A fireball the size of the one that exploded over the Bering Sea is only expected about two or three times every 100 years, says NASA. The blast released about 40% of the energy of the meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk, according to Kelly Fast, Nasa's near-Earth objects observations programme manager, who spoke at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science conference near Houston.

At about noon local time on 18 December, the asteroid barrelled through the atmosphere at a speed of 32km/s, on a steep trajectory of seven degrees.

Discovery: NASA eventually found out about the blast from military satellites that spotted light it emitted when it exploded.

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

Dr Johnson said the fireball came in over an area not too far from routes used by commercial planes flying between North America and Asia.

NASA's Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam), which can help locate potentially hazardous asteroids.

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.

But the latest event over the Bering Sea shows that larger objects can collide with us without warning, underlining the need for enhanced monitoring.

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