The almost unnoticed meteor blast over the Bering Sea in late 2018, created energy of almost 173 kilotons of TNT.
Meteor blasts are not a very common occurrence these days. A meteor blast going almost completely unnoticed, is something that has never happened before. In December, 2018, one of the largest meteors to enter Earth in recent times, came searing into the atmosphere and exploded over the Bering Sea. Usually quite a spectacle, this meteor blast was not witnessed by anyone, other than the US Air Force, detecting its entry through infrared readings detected on their satellites, when the meteor burst.
The explosion took place only 16 miles from the surface, over the ocean. Investigations have revealed that the explosion generated ten times as much power generated in the Hiroshima nuclear bombings. It is the second meteor to enter the Russian airspace in the last ten years, after the Chelyabinsk meteor strike of 2013, which was well documented and had several CCTV and phone camera footage.
The USAF relayed the information onto NASA, who confirmed that it was, in fact a meteor strike. However, they were stunned by the amount of power it generated. A NASA spokesperson has stated that such meteor strikes only happen two or three times in a century. NASA also revealed that the meteor entered Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 72,000 mph. Peter Brown, a meteor researcher at the Western University, Canada, also spotted the blast through a global monitoring network, which is originally designed to detect nuclear blasts.
The event shed a light on the shortcomings in the techniques currently employed to detect such entries from space into our atmosphere. NASA have announced plans to identify 90% of the asteroids, in close proximity to earth, and larger than 140 meters, however reports suggest that they will take a minimum of thirty more years to accomplish this feat.
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