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A meteor exploded over the Atlantic Ocean and nobody noticed

by Brandon Russell | February 24, 2016February 24, 2016 11:40 am PDT


Aside from being the day before the Super Bowl, Feb. 6 wasn’t particularly memorable. According to NASA, however, a meteor explosion occurred that day, and it had the energy equivalent to 13,000 tons of TNT. It’s the largest documented event of its type since the Chelyabinsk meteorite in 2013, which left more than 1,600 people injured. Luckily, this latest event occurred in the air about 620 miles off the coast of Brazil, so nobody was hurt.

Although it might sound like it’s the end of the world, NASA says it’s no big deal. Even if the meteor did explode over a populated area, it wouldn’t have done much damage, according to Phil Plait, who wrote an in-depth article about the event for Slate. For comparison, the superbolide over Chelyabinsk exploded with a force of 500,000 tons of TNT, so the recent event was relatively tame.

The event like the one on Feb. 6 is fairly common, and NASA actually reports such occurrences on its Near-Earth Object Program page, which is extensive and a little terrifying (but not real-time). If you’re curious about NASA’s fireball and bolide reports, you can check that out at the source link below. There you’ll get information such as date, location, altitude, and even impact energy.

Is ignorance bliss? I think in this case, yes. I suppose if the meteor exploded over a populated city, you would have heard about it. But because it happened over the ocean, it was just another regular day—at least by NASA’s standards.

The sky is falling!

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Slate JPL

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...