NASA satellites capture massive "fireball" exploding over the Bering Sea

Credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team.

Images were released this week of a "fireball" that exploded nearly 16 miles over the Bering Sea on Dec. 18, 2018, captured by 2 powerful NASA instruments aboard the Terra Satellite.

Details: The fireball — indeed, the scientific name of these radiant meteors — released an estimated 173 kilotons of energy — roughly 10 times the energy of an atomic bomb, however given its altitude and remote destination, posed no peril on Earth. This was the strongest meteor observed from Earth since 2013.

NASA finds near-Earth asteroid ejecting particles from surface

The asteroid Bennu projects particles from its surface.
The asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on Jan. 19, as seen from cameras aboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Photo: NASA

The near-Earth asteroid Bennu is an active asteroid that periodically ejects rocky material into space, according to early results from NASA's OSIRIS-REx Mission.

Why it matters: This is surprising, as the vast majority of known asteroids are inactive. In addition, NASA scientists hoping to land a spacecraft on Bennu to take samples back to Earth in 2023 have found the asteroid contains larger rocks than earlier thought, which could complicate the sampling mission.

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