Thursday, February 25, 2016

Biggest Fireball Since Chelyabinsk Explodes Unseen over Atlantic

The Chelyabinsk meteor seen here exploded over Russia on Feb. 15, 2013.

The largest meteor since the one that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013 burned up over the open ocean some 1,000 kilometers from the Brazilian coast on February 6, NASA reports. An extraterrestrial body allegedly the size of a large living room, about 5 to 7 meters across, released energy equivalent to 13,000 tons of TNT, which is 40 times less than the Chelyabinsk phenomenon. The object entered the atmosphere before exploding at approximately 30 kilometers above the Atlantic.

It could not be observed from the ground as it fell too far away from any populated area unlike the Chelyabinsk meteor, which hit the city with over 1 million dwellers, damaging nearly 3,000 building and causing multiple injuries.

NASA listed the Feb. 6 event on its Fireball and Bolide Reports web page.

Measurements suggest that about 30 small asteroids (between 1m and 20m in size) burn up in the Earth's atmosphere every year.

Because most of the Earth's surface is covered by water, most of these fall over the ocean and do not affect populated areas.

“Had it happened over a populated area, it would’ve rattled some windows and probably terrified a lot of people, but I don’t think it would’ve done any real damage,” American astronomer Phil Plait wrote in the Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog. 

Although casualties from meteors are extremely rare, it was reported that an Indian man was killed by a fireball’s debris as a flying object struck the campus of a private engineering college in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu this month.

The victim was reportedly thrown some 6m in the air by the impact before he was pronounced dead in the hospital.


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