A giant space rock plunged into the Earth's atmospshere on Feb. 6 and released energy equivalent to an atomic bomb.
A giant meteor fireball crashed into the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month. The total energy released from that explosion was equivalent to 13,000 tons of TNT, making it the largest since Chelyabinsk blast in February 2013. But the funny thing is no one had noticed it.
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Despite having the same force as Hiroshima bomb, the fireball which was actually a tiny space rock, safely burned up in the atmosphere on Feb. 6. NASA also reported the event in their Near Earth Object Program's page.
Impacts like this take place several times per year. On average, our planet is being visited by about 90 tons of cosmic debris every day. Most of them are quite small like the size of a grain but sometimes quite big pieces plunge into the Earth’s atmosphere. The bigger the chunk, the more it gets deeper into our atmosphere before burning up. These small objects can travel anywhere over 33,000 miles per hour and they can compress, heat up and vaporize within seconds.
To put things into perspective, the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk in Russia was 19 meter across and had the power of 500,000 tons of TNT exploding simultaneously and it caused widespread structural damage and injuries to thousands of people. The latest meteor that fall about 1,000 km off the coast of Brazil was roughly 5 to 7 meters across, the size of a large living room but surprisingly not seen by anyone. One reason is it burned up in the middle of the ocean while Chelyabinsk event occurred over a populated area.
“A rock this small is almost impossible to see more than a few hours before the impact, but the flipside is that it’s also really unlikely to do any damage. But once they get into the 20-50 meter range that changes; explosions from impacts like rival nuclear bombs."Astronomy blogger Phil Plait wrote in Slate.
“Happily, they’re very rare – here we’re talking fewer than once per century… but it would be nice if we knew they were coming. It’s hard to say just what we would do if we saw one, but right now we don’t even have that option.”
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