Asteroid Explodes Over Arizona

Space Weather

On June 2nd just before 4 a.m. MST, a small asteroid hit Earth’s atmosphere and exploded over Arizona. The airburst shook the ground below and produced a flash of light 10x brighter than a full Moon. NASA says it was a 3-meter wide space rock from beyond the orbit of Mars. Shortly after the explosion, Mike Lerch walked out the front door of his house in Phoenix on the way to work, and this is what he saw:  

“At first I thought it was a rocket launch,” says Lerch. “Now I realize it was debris from the asteroid.” Indeed, the smokey remains were widely visible as they twisted in the winds high above Arizona.

The flash itself was so bright, it briefly turned night into day. Marsha Adams sends these before, during, and after shots from Sedona, Arizona:

“The camera was facing NE so it did not record the asteroid itself,” says Adams. “However, the flash cast very distinct shadows, and landscape colors were vivid.”

Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office says this is the brightest fireball detected in the 8-year history of the NASA’s All Sky Fireball Network, an array of cameras that monitors fireball activity across the USA. The fact that the explosion blinded most cameras that saw it initially complicated analysts’ efforts to pinpoint its nature and origin. Ultimately, however, they were able to draw firm conclusions: The mass of the asteroid was some tens of tons and it exploded with a kinetic energy of approximately 10 kilotons.

“There are no reports of any damage or injuries—just a lot of light and few sonic booms,” says Cooke. “If Doppler radar is any indication, there are almost certainly meteorites scattered on the ground north of Tucson.”

http://www.spaceweather.com/

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