Meteor that exploded over Earth more powerful than Hiroshima bomb, NASA says

Meteorologist Simon Proud found the meteor's purported smoke trail on Japan's Himawari satellite

Meteorologist Simon Proud found the meteor's purported smoke trail on Japan's Himawari satellite

The meteorite blew up over the Bering Sea, off Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, in December, NASA said.

At about noon local time on 18 December, the asteroid barrelled through the atmosphere at a speed of 32km/s, on a steep trajectory of seven degrees.

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.

Gauging 656ft wide, the planetoid was named 2011 EO40 and 6 years ago traveled into Earth's atmosphere at a whopping 41,600mph, issuing 30 times more energy than diagnosed at Hiroshima. Back then social media was flooded with videos and photos of the fireball blazing in the sky brighter than sun. By the look of things, a giant space rock has exploded in the Earth's atmosphere.

The massive explosion didn't receive much attention until now because it was over water, and people didn't see or feel any effect of the impact, Kelly Fast, near-Earth objects observation program manager at NASA, told BBC. This is about 10 times the energy produced by the atomic bomb that struck Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II.

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The December event's impact is topped only by a meteor explosion over Russian Federation in 2013.

NASA conducted independent research into the event using USA military satellites, and was able to determine that the meteor was traveling at some 115,200kph (71,600 miles per hour) and exploded at an altitude of 25.6km (16 miles). NASA scientist Kelly Fast delivered the news at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in the USA state of Texas this week. Dr. Kelly Fast, a researcher with the USA space agency, explained that the area of explosion is not far from the usual route of several commercial flights between America and Asia.

Dr Amy Mainzer of the Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said: "The idea is really to get as close as possible to reaching that 90 per cent goal of finding the 140m and larger near-Earth asteroids given to Nasa by Congress".

NASA asteroid hunters are most concerned about identifying near-Earth objects measuring 460 feet (140 m) across, which have the potential to obliterate entire U.S. states if allowed to pass through the atmosphere, Live Science previously reported.

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