A 1,500 Ton Meteor Exploded Over Earth Last Year

NASA found a large meteor explosion that occurred over the Bering Sea

A meteor traveling 20 miles per second exploded in Earth's atmosphere with the power of 10 World War II-era atomic bombs - and nobody noticed until now, BBC News reports.

A meteor exploded over the Bering Sea past year, creating the second largest recorded fireball in three decades, according to NASA.

The blast was the second largest of its kind in 30 years, and the biggest since the fireball over Chelyabinsk in Russian Federation six years ago.

NASA planetary defence officer Lindley Johnson told BBC News that an object of this size is only expected to strike the Earth about two or three times every 100 years. The Bering Sea fireball exploded 25.6 kilometres above the air having struck thicker layers of the atmosphere with its air burst power reaching 173 kilotons, which is 11 times less than "Little Boy", a 15-kiloton bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.

Dr Fast was discussing the event here at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, near Houston, Texas.

"But (this explosion) was over the Bering Sea, so it didn't have the same type of effect or show up in the news", Kelly Fast, manager of the near-Earth objects observations programme at NASA, said.

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

NASA’s Near Earth Object Camera, which can help locate potentially hazardous asteroids
NASA’s Near Earth Object Camera, which can help locate potentially hazardous asteroids

The explosion occurred in an area close to commercial flight routes between North America and Asia, the space administration said, prompting researchers to check with airlines for reported sightings.

It would then discover and characterise potentially hazardous asteroids larger than 140 m in its field of view.

Meteors such as this are known as "problems without passports" because they have the potential to impact whole regions if they collide with Earth.

This was the second largest explosion detected in recent years.

However, according to scientists' estimates, it will take them another 30 years to meet their 90 percent objective.

They said a monitoring system would need space-based observatories as well as ground telescopes to give it any chance of success.

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