Meteor blast over Bering Sea was 10 times size of Hiroshima

The object was several metres in diameter

If a massive meteor explodes above Earth and there are no iPhones to capture it on video, did it really happen? That's about 10 times bigger than the atomic bomb used on Hiroshima in 1945.

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 32-foot-diameter space rock, estimated to weigh 1,400 tons, blew up December 18 over the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia, New Scientist reported.

Data shows the asteroid barrelled through the atmosphere on a steep trajectory of seven degrees at about noon on December 18.

According to the planetary defense officer at NASA, Lindley Johnson, in an interview with BBC News, such a massive meteor explosion should only take place two or three times in 100 years.

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.

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"That was 40 percent the energy release of Chelyabinsk [a fireball that blew up over Russian Federation in 2013], but it was over the Bering Sea, so it didn't have the same type of effect or show up in the news", Kelly Fast, NASA's near-Earth objects observations program manager told BBC News.

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

She gave details of the blast at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference near Houston, Texas.

Nasa received information about the blast from the United States air force after military satellites detected visible and infrared light from the fireball in December. This fix is an ongoing project using a combination of ground and space-based telescopes.

A mission concept in development would see a telescope called NeoCam launched to a gravitational balance point in space, where it would discover and characterise potentially hazardous asteroids larger than 140m.

To get a comprehensive map of all potential threats to Earth, researchers have estimated a couple of more decades through NeoCam and other projects.



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