Massive fireball explodes over the Atlantic

Massive fireball explodes over the Atlantic

It was the biggest explosion since the Chelyabinsk meteor a few years ago.

A huge fireball was detected over the Southern Atlantic Ocean a few weeks ago with the energy of 13,000 tonnes of TNT.

It was the largest meteor to strike the Earth since the Chelyabinsk meteor blasted into the atmosphere in 2013, shattering windows of nearby buildings. The meteor was detected Feb. 6 by NASA about 31 kilometers over the South Atlantic Ocean, about 1,000 kilometers from southern Brazil — which is probably why you didn’t hear about it, according to a CBC report.

At 13,000 tons of TNT, it’s only slightly less energy than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II, which used 15,000 tons of TNT.

The Chelyabinsk meteor injured more than 1,100 people and caused more than $30 million in damage on Feb. 15, 2013. That meteor produced energy the equivalent of 500,000 tons of TNT. The meteor itself was probably about 20 meters in diameter, compared to the latest meteor, which was probably about 5 to 7 meters.

Because it was in such a remote location, it’s likely no one actually witnessed the meteor, unless there was a passing boat somewhere in the vicinity. NASA likely detected it using satellite observations.

On the Bad Astronomy Blog, author Phil Plait said that a “tiny chunk of interplanetary material” burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere. He added that this is a fairly small impact. If it had happened in a populated area, it would have rattled the windows somewhat, but it certainly wouldn’t have done the damage the Chelyabinsk blast did.

He added some background: “The Earth is bombarded by debris from space to the tune of about 100 tons every day. Most of this stuff is quite small, like the size of a grain of sand or smaller, and burns up 100 kilometers or so off the ground. We call the solid bit of debris a meteoroid, the bright phenomenon a meteor, and, if it hits the ground, a meteorite.”

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