On 18 December
2018 a great "fireball" – the term for
exceptionally bright meteors visible over a wide area –
exploded about 16 miles (26 kilometers) over the Bering Sea. The explosion
estimated 173 kilotons of energy or more than ten times the energy
the atomic bomb over Hiroshima during World War II.
Instruments aboard the Terra satellite captured images of the remains of the Great
Meteor. The image sequence shows views of five out of nine cameras on the Multi-Angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument
at 23:55 (UTC), a few minutes after
Event. The shadow of the meteor track
Earth's atmosphere, thrown on the tops of the clouds and extended by the low sun angle
is northwest. The orange cloud left by the fireball
Overheating of the air flow can be seen on the right and right
the center of GIF.
Still image taken with the SpectroRadiometer Moderate Resolution Imaging
(MODIS) Instrument, is a true color image showing the remnants of the passage of the meteor.
seen as a dark shadow on thick, white clouds. MODIS has taken the picture at
The December 1
However, this is the case, given the altitude and the remote area it has encountered
The object was not a threat to anyone on the ground. Fireball events are actually pretty
common and recorded at the NASA Center for Near Earth Object
Terra spacecraft was launched in 1999 and is managed by NASA's Goddard Space
Air Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The MISR instrument was built and is
managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California for NASA
Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of Caltech. The
MISR data was obtained from the NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric
Science data center in Hampton, Virginia. The MODIS instrument is managed by Goddard of NASA
Space Flight Center.
For more information about MISR and MODIS, see
following page (s):
News Media Contact  Esprit Smith
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, 19459009
Goddard Space Flight Center of NASA