Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bolide Over California April 22nd

Meteor News... Meteor News... Meteor News...

This passed Sunday, April 22nd, there were reports of a fireball that roared over two western states and finally exploded over California's Sierra Nevada mountain range. The sound of the explosion was heard from central California to as far east as Reno, Nevada and beyond. The available data on the event has now been analyzed by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, and the following can now be confirmed.

First, the object was indeed a natural meteor, and not a falling piece of space junk or a UFO. A meteor of this type--an exploding fireball--is often described by astronomical observers as a bolide. Second, the analysts estimate that the space rock (meteoroid) which entered Earth's atmosphere was approximately the size of a mini-van. Third, analysts estimate the meteor exploded in the atmosphere with an energy equal to 3.8 kilotons of TNT. And, based on a triangulation of the very low frequency sound of the mid-air explosion, they determined it occurred over latitude 37.6 degrees North, longitude 120.5 degrees West, above the Sierra Nevada mountains. And the resulting meteorite fragments are possibly strewn across that mountain range.

The event took place near the peak of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Also, analysts do not know the exact trajectory of the bolide, so they cannot conclusively state that it was not a Lyrid meteor. But even so, they think it more likely the body was a background or sporadic meteor.

Below is information on two websites that have lots of useful information on the study of meteoroids and other near-earth objects (NEOs). Please check them out.

• The NASA Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO) is the NASA organization responsible for meteoroid environments pertaining to Spacecraft engineering and operations. The MEO leads NASA technical work on the meteoroid environment and coordinates the existing meteoroid expertise at NASA centers. To learn more, visit the home page of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office:

• NASA's Near-Earth Object (NEO) Program coordinates NASA-sponsored efforts to detect, track and characterize potentially hazardous asteroids and comets that could approach the Earth. To learn more, visit the home page of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program:


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