If we had to guess, you probably don’t recall anything major happening on Feb. 6 of this year. But, according to a report from NASA, if you lived in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, you would remember it.
Pictured is the last recorded superbolide/meteor to expode over the Atlantic in February 2013, just over three years ago.
The NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Fireball page recorded a sizable event occurring at 1:55 p.m.
At that time, the entry says an exceptionally bright meteor, known as a fireball or a bolide, zoomed into Earth’s atmosphere and likely exploded over the South Atlantic Ocean.
And the calculated total impact energy released from that explosion was reportedly about what you’d get if you detonated 13,000 tons of TNT.
Now, that sounds like a pretty big deal. But as far as meteor impacts go, this one was pretty tiny.
To put things into perspective, researchers say the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013 was equivalent to the detonation of about 500,000 tons of TNT.
As an astronomy blogger for Slate put it, “Events this size aren’t too big a concern. Had it happened over a populated area, it would’ve rattled some windows and probably terrified a lot of people, but I don’t think it would’ve done any real damage.”
Researcher Phil Plait said: “Had it happened over a populated area it, would’ve rattled some windows and probably terrified a lot of people, but I don’t think it would’ve done any real damage.”
NASA worker Ron Baalke tweeted the event after it appeared on the space agency’s Near Earth Fireball Report page.
While it was unlikely that anyone saw or filmed it, it is likely to have been picked up by the military which monitors atmospheric events.
Mr Plait said: “Impacts like this happen several times per year on average, with most going unseen.”
NASA tracks thousands of near-Earth objects, and around 1,600 are regarded as potentially hazardous.
Larger meteors pose more of a risk.
A 30-metre-wide rock may pass close to Earth next month, but NASA experts have said there is no reason to worry.
There are no significant impacts expected on Earth for the next century or so.