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A meteor has exploded over the Bering Sea

– News of April 14, 2019 –

On December 18, 2018, a large asteroid exploded in the atmosphere over the Bering Sea. The detonation released ten times more energy than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, yet no one noticed anything. Some satellites have detected it : the military orbiters responsible for detecting nuclear explosions and civilian satellites have provided us with images of the fireball passing through the Earth’s atmosphere.

This is the second most powerful explosion due to an asteroid since the beginning of the third millennium. The Chelyabinsk meteor had been much more publicized in 2013, mainly because it had exploded over an inhabited area. 1200 inhabitants of the city had been wounded because the shock wave had broken many windows.

In both cases, the explosions occurred at altitude. The meteor of the Bering Sea exploded 26 kilometers above the ground. The satellite images show an object of about ten meters in diameter for a mass of 1500 tons. We estimate that it entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a very high speed, about 115,000 km / h. This explains the large amount of energy released by its disintegration.

This type of event takes place several times a century. Although impressive, the Bering Sea meteor is anecdotal. The meteor that exploded over Siberia in 1908 released a thousand times more energy and devastated a 2000-kilometer ground area square. This is a good reason to accentuate our efforts to monitor near-Earth asteroids.

Picture by Jared Tennant [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

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