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Powerful Bering Sea Fireball spotted from space in NASA photos

Satellite photos give an impressive view of the second most powerful Meteor explosion of the 21st century.

On December 18, 2018, a incoming space rock detonated [269] [26] miles above Bering Sea is icy and generates 173 kilotons of energy. That's about ten times more than the amount released by the atomic bomb dropped by the United States during the Second World War on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Only a single impact event since 2000 was more powerful – the February 2013 airburst over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk which caused a shockwave that injured more than 1,200 people. (Most of these people were injured by broken glass from broken windows.)

Related: Photos: Russian Meteor Explosion of February 1

5, 2013

Unlike the Bei At an event in Chelyabinsk, nobody on the ground saw or recorded the Bering Sea Meteor, as far as we know. This is a consequence of the remote location. The Bering Sea lies between the Far Eastern Russians and Alaska. However, some sharp eyes in the sky saved the explosion for posterity.

NASA's earth-observing Terra satellite, for example, detected the meteor with two different instruments – the Multi-Angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MODIS). MISR team members combined some of their images into an animated GIF that NASA released on Friday (March 22).

This sequence of images shows views of the multi-angle imaging SpectroRadiometer instrument of NASA's Terra satellite, taken a few minutes after the explosion of a fireball over the Bering Sea on December 18th. 2018.

[Image: © NASA / GSFC / LaRC / JPL-Caltech, MISR Team]

In the meantime, a color-fast MODIS photo shows both the fireball and its dark smoke trail, which stands out clearly against thick , white clouds, said NASA officials. (If you ask yourself, "Fireball" refers to a meteor that is at least as bright as Venus in our sky.)

The Japanese Himawari satellite also observed the explosion. Some of the photos of this spacecraft can be seen in of this story from Sky & Telescope .

The object that caused the Bering Sea fireball was probably about 10 meters wide and weighed about 1,500 tons (1,360 meters) of NASA meteor experts. The stone probably hit the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of about 71,600 km / h (115,200 km / h).

Scientists believe that the Chelyabinan asteroid was about 20 meters wide at the time of its dramatic encounter with Earth. The explosion of this object caused a whopping 440 kilotons of energy.

However, this performance fades in comparison to a 1908-born Airburst over Siberia involving an asteroid about 40 meters wide. This explosion, known as the Tunguska event generated 185 times more energy than the Hiroshima bomb and compressed approximately 800 square kilometers of forest. It is the strongest impact event in recorded history.

And no, the gods have nothing against Russia. Russia is so surrounded by space rocks because it covers more areas than any other nation.

Mike Wall's book on the Quest for Extraterrestrial Life " Out There " (Grand Central Publishing, 2018, illustrated by Karl Tate ), is now out , Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook .

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