Minivan-sized meteor packed explosive power

By Scott Sonner

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 25 2012 12:45 p.m. MDT

This image provided by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows a meteor over Reno Nevada Sunday April 22, 2012. The former space rock-turned-flaming-meteor entered Earth's atmosphere around 8 a.m. PDT. Reports of the fireball have come in from as far north as Sacramento, Calif. and as far east as North Las Vegas, Nev. Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environments Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., estimates the object was about the size of a minivan, weighed in at around 154,300 pounds (70 metric tons) and at the time of disintegration released energy equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion.

JPL, AP Photo/Lisa Warren, NASA

Enlarge photo»

RENO, Nev. — Scientists say a giant fireball that exploded in daylight over California's Central Valley over the weekend was a rare phenomenon and much larger than most meteors.

Bill Cooke, a specialist in meteors at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., estimates the flaming object was about the size of a minivan.

It was seen from Sacramento to Las Vegas and in parts of northern Nevada as it entered the atmosphere with a loud "boom" about 8 a.m. Sunday.

Cooke says its disintegration probably released energy equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion. That's a third the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II.

NASA experts say fireballs that big occur about once a year but mostly go unseen over oceans or uninhabited areas.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS