NASA failed to tell the public about the largest atmospheric impact since 2013 - did you hear about it?
In 2013, a massive meteor struck the earth near Chelyabinsk, Russia, causing widespread property damage and injuries in the city of 1 million. The meteor caused shockwaves around the world, striking fear into the hearts of people as they looked towards the sky wondering when the next one would come. According to a Forbes report, however, the next one already came, and nobody saw it.
NASA recorded the impact on its Fireballs and Bolides Report page on February 6. Researchers detected the impact on February 6 over the southern Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Brazil. They believe the meteor was as big as seven meters wide, the largest to hit the Earth since Chelyabinsk.
There were no eyewitness reports of the Feb 6 meteor, even from pilots or sailors in the area. This may explain why nobody was talking about it until three weeks later, but it begs the question – are we totally prepared to deal with an incoming meteor if it were heading towards a major population center?
The meteor was certainly less powerful than the one that rocked Chelyabinsk in 2013 – it impacted the surface of the Earth with the energy equivalent of roughly 13,000 tons of TNT. By contrast, the meteor that struck Russia hit with the energy equivalent of 500,000 tons of TNT. While it certainly wasn’t as serious, the impact went almost entirely unreported.
NASA announced late last summer that the Near-Earth Object office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA saw no evidence that the Earth was at an immediate risk of a massive asteroid impact. “There is no scientific basis – not one shred of evidence – that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth,” scientists wrote.
NASA scientists say they’re on top of it, and they did in fact log the most recent impact off the coast of Brazil. But for the rest of us that don’t have access to massive telescopes and highly sensitive instruments, a little heads up would be much appreciated the next time a space rock crashes into the Earth.
Information regarding NASA’s Fireballs and Bolides program can be found here.