reported by meteordetective
Reporting carefully and comprehensively on a meteor event which occurred 17 days ago, with publicly available data which was seen 3 days ago but, thus far, had not been brought to the attention of the wider public audience.
Small excerpt from the RT article:
"The largest meteor since the one that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013 burned up over the open ocean some 1,000 kilometers from the Brazilian coast on February 6, NASA reports. An extraterrestrial body allegedly the size of a large living room, about 5 to 7 meters across, released energy equivalent to 13,000 tons of TNT, which is 40 times less than the Chelyabinsk phenomenon.
The object entered the atmosphere before exploding at approximately 30km above the Atlantic. It couldn`t be observed from the ground as it fell too far away from any populated area unlike the Chelyabinsk meteor, which hit the city with over 1 million dwellers, damaging nearly 3,000 building and causing multiple injuries."
Reference / Need-To-Know
- NASA Fireballs web-page
- NASA Chelyabinsk meteor tracking article
- Wikpedia article on the "Little Boy" type of Atomic Bomb
- NASA Sentry / "Risk" Table
From the data which NASA decided to publish on their "Fireballs" page, this event involved a relatively small chunk of space rock - however, the physics transforms a piece of space rock in to a potentially destructive 'space-bomb' of sorts...but let's put this incident in context.
Some, like the UK Mirror, are asking why NASA did not produce a major news-release, blog-post or even Tweet about it on the official NASA Twitter account? It is the author's opinion that their main reason for not doing so is simple; They do not wish to 'scare the chickens' or even confuse them with the technical details.
If you've observed NASA and their 'data practices' for any length of time, you might be forgiven for thinking that they have a 'conservative' policy in this respect. To be fair to NASA, and other government agencies, too, the wider public are, more often than not, unable, uninterested or lacking in the technical knowledge, background or 'space knowledge' and/or scientific 'aptitude'...to have NASA giving them the occasional fright by way of a bite from the 'Space Rock Reality Burger'.
Sometimes 'they' simply don't want the public to know...although the public is aware of this long-standing, well-documented and prolific behaviour. Still, this is often the case and this blog post is not an entry point - in to the discussion about 'right to know', classified projects/documents/incidents etc.
Mr Plait, in his blog post article about the 'Atlantic' fireball, may have committed a minor 'sin' against NASA - by writing about a one-line table-entry on a relatively obscure NASA page, which had the potential to be transformed in to a headline article. His blog-post has since been picked-up by countless 'news' agencies. Many of them have, arguably, sensationalised this event and have introduced words like "bomb" and "Hiroshima" to their headlines. NASA's way of 'announcing' this event seems more appropriate and discrete...don't you think, or not??
For those 'in the know' and for those capable of viewing / translating 'dry' science data in to something meaningful, there was no need to 'go public' (although the data was publicly available) with this event. The public, at large, can easily be unsettled or even potentially frightened by what's out there (in the world as a whole) and by introducing, without context/background, a subject which is unfamiliar to them.
There is little, if any, purpose in causing an informational stampede or fear-mongering at large. More harm can sometimes be caused by 'going public' with information...and this remains true...even when it comes to space-rocks.
Yes, there was a small meteor which had substantial (potential) for destruction, but our atmosphere shielded us from this particular episode of doom and handled this small meteoroid without fuss.
There are much larger asteroids out there - along with Comets, and an almost incomprehensible number of planets and stars. (Allegedly, Charlie the Unicorn is out there, somewhere, too).
The reality is that Earth's atmosphere is tested by the occasional asteroid or, much more frequently, the much smaller meteoroids. Some make it down, through the atmosphere, to the surface, they strike the ground (astronomers apparently call it an "impact" when a meteor/meteoroid hits the atmosphere??), and become meteorites.
It's a numbers 'game' of probability - in the same way that winning the lottery is also a numbers game. Chance or probability favours, very strongly, that there will be a large number (you'd need to find and analyse this data for yourself) of space-rocks which do not pose a threat - versus a handful which occasionally penetrate our atmosphere and have the correct composition, size, velocities, trajectory and geographical location to present any form of threat to our planet or the life upon it.
Again, the chances are small of even seeing such a thing - however The Lunar Meteorite Hunter blog is a popular website which facilitates and encourages people to both report their meteor sightings and view other people's reports - from around the world.
Sometimes (very occasionally) things are seen which are not reported or published - usually from a geopolitical/military secrecy perspective. It is appropriate to be conservative and responsible most, if not all, of the time. This policy/practice also deals with, and censors, the many hoaxes which are, unfortunately, played on the public and is successful most of the time in this respect.
So, getting back to the 'South Atlantic Fireball of February 2016'...
Yes, there was a small meteor which exploded high in the atmosphere with considerable force. NASA reported it, quietly, and then the 'newspapers' got hold of it. Enough said.
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2016 The THIRD Year of "CERTAIN Uncertainty" ™ / Meteors, Asteroids, Comets, and MORE!!