1000-pound FIREBALL explodes over US, terrifies locals; NASA identifies it as meteoroid

    On Wednesday, a huge fireball was seen over the skies of Texas, US. According to preliminary analysis by NASA, it is believed to be a meteoroid.

    By: HT TECH
    | Updated on: Feb 17 2023, 14:48 IST
    What is a Meteorite? Know about these fallen “space rocks”
    Meteorite
    1/5 Meteorites are generally meteors that have fallen on Earth. When a meteoroid enters a planet’s atmosphere, it Is termed as a Meteor. If the meteor falls on the surface of the planet without burning up completely, it is called a Meteorite, according to NASA. (AP)
    Meteor
    2/5 Therefore, it can be said that meteorites are broken up pieces of a meteor fallen on Earth or any planet’s surface. They can be found in various parts of the world where there have been previous meteor sightings. Meteorites typically range between the size of a pebble and a fist (Pixabay)
    Meteorite
    3/5 Meteorites can resemble rocks on Earth, but they usually have a burned exterior that can appear shiny. This “fusion crust” forms as the meteorite’s outer surface melts while passing through the atmosphere, according to NASA. (NASA)
    image caption
    4/5 Although most meteorites found on Earth originate from smaller asteroids, they can also potentially originate at nearby planets such as Mars or even the Moon. Scientists can tell where meteorites originate based on several lines of evidence. They can use photographic observations of meteorite falls to calculate orbits and project their paths back to the asteroid belt. (NASA/JPL)
    solar system
    5/5 Meteorites that fall to Earth contain information about some of the original, diverse materials that formed planets billions of years ago, according to NASA. By studying meteorites scientists can learn about early conditions of the solar system as well as the processes which happened to reach where we are today. (Pixabay)
    Meteor
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    Fireball explosion terrifies locals in Texas, US. NASA reveals it was a meteoroid. (Representative Photo) (NASA)

    An amazing event occurred in the evening skies of Texas, USA that left the local citizens terrified. On Wednesday, February 15, a gigantic fireball was seen zooming across the sky near the USA and Mexico border. McAllen, Texas got the best view of the event and many residents reported hearing loud boom and experienced their houses shaking as the fireball flew past in the sky. NASA, after running a preliminary analysis, believes that the fireball was caused by a meteoroid that exploded yesterday. As further examination continues, local authorities have issued a warning asking residents to not touch the debris from the explosion.

    In a report posted by NASA, the space agency stated, “Based on analysis of preliminary information from several sources, NASA experts believe the object was a meteoroid about two feet in diameter weighing about 1000 pounds. The angle and speed of entry, along with signatures in weather radar imagery, are consistent with other naturally occurring meteorite falls”. NASA also noted that based on radar data, it was indicated that meteorites reached the ground from this event. Meteorites refer to the solid remains of a meteoroid that reach the surface of the Earth.

    Fireball causes chaos in USA, found to be a meteoroid

    It is not sure whether the entire meteoroid made an impact on ground or whether it broke down into small pieces which then reached the surface of the Earth. Astronomers and authorities are still determining the exact location where the debris fell.

    Even as the advisory is to not touch the pieces of debris, NASA has reassured people that it is not a risk to people. It stated, “Although meteorites tend to hit Earth's atmosphere at high speeds, they slow as they travel through the atmosphere, breaking into small fragments before hitting the ground. Meteorites cool rapidly and generally are not a risk to the public”.

    Interestingly, this particular meteoroid escaped the watchful eyes of many space telescopes and ground-based observatories which look out for such incidents. The reason behind it is believed to be the small size of the meteoroid (about 2-feet in width) and it appearing from the direction of the Sun, which make the telescopes useless due to the solar glare.

    NASA highlighted the event as a reminder to focus on Earth's defense against asteroids, meteoroids and other space rocks. It emphasized, “The meteor seen in the skies above McAllen is a reminder of the need for NASA and other organizations to increase our understanding and protection of Earth, to combine scientific and engineering expertise to advance human space exploration, to integrate terrestrial and planetary research for furthering our understanding of the solar system, and to promote successful space missions by mitigating risk”.

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    First Published Date: 17 Feb, 14:44 IST
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