NASA Announces Meteor Explosion

Sara Sanguinetti, Staff Writer

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Unbeknownst to the whole world, an extreme cosmic event took place months ago. A new report from NASA announced that a meteor exploded over Russia last December with the force of ten atomic bombs.

Although the blast occurred months ago, the knowledge that it happened wasn’t released until late March. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab released the report on March 18th.

The meteor exploded over Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, an isolated strip of land jutting out into the Bering Sea. No one on land was able to observe the blast, but a Japanese satellite and the U.S. Air Force detected it.

The fiery explosion forcefully released 173 kilotons of energy in the atmosphere. In comparison, the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945 exploded with 15 kilotons of energy. This meteor isn’t the largest to explode in Earth’s atmosphere. In February of 2013, a massive meteor exploded and released 440 kilotons of energy over Russia.

It’s understandable to worry over the prospect of a meteor exploding into Earth with the amount of energy these ones had. But NASA has been successful at detecting meteors and other space objects that come dangerously close to Earth. Last year, they correctly predicted the collision of a tiny space rock with Earth. The rock, called 2018 LA, landed safely in Botswana.

NASA is also planning to deal with rocks that could be trouble in the future. The “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan” will detail steps and actions that can be taken to stop dangerous meteors from crashing into Earth. The plan is still in development.

Some researchers still worry about what must be done to stop a collision. “We used to believe that the larger the object, the more easily it would break, because bigger objects are more likely to have flaws,” Charles El Mir, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, said. “Our findings, however, show that asteroids are stronger than we used to think and require more energy to be completely shattered.”

While NASA’s plan has the potential to successfully defend Earth from meteors, our planet isn’t completely defenseless. Most space debris burns up in its atmosphere. Many satellites and space probes also track meteors and comets that travel close to Earth on their orbit. It’s safe to say that Earth is well equipped in the event of a meteor.

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