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Images of giant 'fireball' exploding over Earth

NASA shows what an exploding meteor looks like from space

Shadow of meteor's trail through Earth's atmosphere, cast on cloud tops and elongated by the low sun angle.
Shadow of meteor's trail through Earth's atmosphere, cast on cloud tops and elongated by the low sun angle. (Image credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – A meteor hurtling toward Earth at over 71,000 mph exploded above the Bering Sea in a spectacle that lit up the sky. 

NASA revealed images from this exceptionally bright meteor, called a fireball, when it exploded about 16 miles above the Pacific, unleashing an estimated 173 kilotons of TNT on December 18, 2018.

It was far more impactful in comparison to the recent 1.4 kiloton fireball that shoot across Florida and Cuba on February 1, 2019.

This fireball packed more than 10 times the energy in the atomic bomb blast over Hiroshima and it marked the second most powerful meteor impact to hit the planet since 1988.

Chart shows reported fireball events calculated total impact energy for which geographic location data are provided.
Chart shows reported fireball events calculated total impact energy for which geographic location data are provided.

A satellite called Terra captured images of the remnants of the large meteor a few minutes after the event. 

The shadow of the meteor's trail through Earth's atmosphere, cast on the cloud tops and elongated by the low sun angle, is to the northwest. 


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