70 ton meteoroid explodes above California

first_imgUsually, when you hear a very load clap high up in the sky it means a jet had just passed over and caused a sonic boom as it broke through the speed of sound. But on Sunday, many looked up after hearing such a sound to see a bright white fireball. It wasn’t anything man-made blowing up, it was instead a rather large and fast moving meteoroid exploding.The meteor could be seen in fireball form at around 8am above Nevada and California. According to NASA‘s Meteoroid Environment Office the meteoroid was traveling at roughly 33,500mph when it hit our atmosphere. In terms of size and weight it is thought to have been solid rock, weighing 70 tons, and about 4 meters in diameter.A meteor roughly the same size as a minivan, weighing that much, and traveling at such high speed has a lot of energy behind it. It’s speculated that if it had managed to hit the ground it would have caused the equivalent of a 3.8 kiloton explosion. Instead, that energy was dissipated in our atmosphere, which protected us from a potential disaster. The sound the explosion caused did manage to set building and car alarms off, though.Spotting meteors of this relatively small size is difficult, and this one was missed. However, using infrasound stations it is possible to accurately figure out where the meteoroid was when it exploded. Such sounds were picked up at two stations relating to the explosion, allowing its position to be triangulated as 37.6N, 120.5W.Some suggest the meteor is part of the annual Lyrid meteor shower, but it’s more likely this is just a coincidence and anyone managing to see the fireball can count themselves very lucky.Read more at Discovery and Reuterslast_img

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