Meteor explosion December, near Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula


Meteor explosion December, near Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula.

The powerful meteor blast exploded near Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula, over the open waters of the Bering Sea. Military satellite over the region tracked the meteor blast to around 16 miles (25.6km) above the ground. The incident occurred on December 18 last year, when the fireball entered the atmosphere at breakneck speeds of about 71,582mph or 32km per second. The meteor never reached the ground but NASA estimates the blast was more powerful than the devastating nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

The meteor’s impact energy stood somewhere in the region of 173 kilotonnes of TNT.

Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at NASA, told BBC news events like this only happen once every 100 years or so.

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But the meteor impact comes six years after the terrifying Chelyabinsk Meteor incident of February 15, 2013.

The Chelyabinsk Meteor injured more than 1,000 people and damaged more than 7,000 buildings when it erupted over Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast.

NASA sad the December meteor only measured several meteors across, compared to the 65ft-wide (20m) Chelyabinsk rock.

Kelly Fast, an asteroid expert at NASA, said of the latest meteor impact: “That was 40 percent the energy release of Chelyabinsk, but it was over the Bering Sea so it didn’t have the same type of effect or show up in the news.

“That’s another thing we have in our defence, there’s plenty of water on the planet.”

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According to NASA, the meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a steep angle of around seven degrees.

The meteor’s explosion was then detected by military satellites and the information was relayed to NASA.

Dr Johnson, said the fireball flew towards the ground through an area populated by commercial aeroplane rates between North America and Asia.

Asteroids and comets of various sizes pelt the Earth on a regular basis but rarely does an object big enough to cause widespread destruction approach the planet.

The real danger comes from so-called “Near-Earth Objects” (NEOs) measuring more than 460ft (140m) in diameter.

In 2005, the US Congress tasked NASA with detecting and cataloguing the up to 90 percent of these objects within the boundaries of our solar system.

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Space rocks this big are dubbed “Potentially Hazardous Asteroids” (PHAa) because they have the potential to wipe out or severely damage entire regions.

A 2018 joint-report between NASA and the White House said: “NEO impacts of varying size could have major environmental, economic, and geopolitical consequences detrimental to the United States, even if the impact is outside US territory.

“The direct effects from a NEO impact depend on its size, composition, and impact speed.

“Small, rocky NEOs are likely to explode before hitting the ground, resulting in an airburst that could produce a wider area of moderate damage compared with a similarly sized metallic object that would strike the ground and cause heavier, more localised devastation.”


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