NASA: Fireball Over Cuba Exploded With Energy of One Kiloton of TNT

Tuesday, 05 February 2019 - 11:43AM
Science News
NASA
Tuesday, 05 February 2019 - 11:43AM
NASA: Fireball Over Cuba Exploded With Energy of One Kiloton of TNT
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Composite adapted from Pixabay Images
If you were in the Florida Keys or Viñales, Cuba last Friday and you saw a fireball explode overhead with an ear-shattering sonic boom, you may rest assured that it was not a side effect of one too many daiquiris or Singapore Slings. NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) confirmed that the fireball seen on February 1st was indeed a meteor entering Earth's atmosphere, breaking the sound barrier and generating as much energy as 1,400 tons of TNT. 


Screenshot: https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/fireballs/      Alan B. Chamberlain (JPL/Caltech)


The International Meteor Association reports that debris from the exploding space rock rained down upon Viñales, prompting a number of residents to claim that they had discovered meteorite bits in their neighborhoods or on their properties. According to EarthSky.org, who reproduced a viewer-supplied photo that looked suspiciously like a streetlight, astronomers familiar with meteor measurements estimate that bolide was roughly the size of a van when it came hurtling towards Earth. 





For a little perspective, it's worth noting that the Chelyabinsk meteor that struck Russia in 2013 had the energy of 30 atomic bombs, shattered windows for miles, and was the size of a house: about 60 feet long. For even more perspective, you might recall that NASA failed to notice the 157 - 361 foot asteroid that passed perilously close to Earth last April at a speed of Mach 86, undoubtedly looking for a planet with dinosaurs to make extinct.


If one of those ever strikes Earth, it's unlikely that we - or anyone - will be reporting on it at all.
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