It was just last week that NASA publicly revealed its plans to enhance its tracking and detection systems for smaller near-Earth objects, and now a video from Russia shows exactly why such an effort is so important. The video shows a rather sizable fireball streaking through the atmosphere on June 21st, causing an incredibly bright flash that was visible to at least a handful or Russian cities.
The fireball, which was detected by NASA, was the most powerful visit from a near-Earth object since December of last year, delivering an estimated impact energy of 2.8 kilotons when it slammed into our planet’s atmosphere.
According to the International Meteor Organization, the fireball was reported by observers in the Russian cities of Kursk, Lipetsk, Voronzeh, and Orel. Along with the bright flash, which was clearly visible even though it was early morning, the object created a large sonic boom that was heard from many miles away.
The fireball and the smokey streak it left behind was captured by several different cameras, with one conveniently-placed dash cam nailing its entry:
According to NASA’s calculations, the fireball entered at a speed of 14km/s, or around 32,200 miles per hour. The speedy space rock didn’t cause any injuries, and it’s still unknown whether or not any material from the object avoided total incineration and made it to the ground.
Amazingly, the fireball was actually large enough to be detected by weather satellites flying high overhead. A video showing the faint puff of smoke as the asteroid meets its end in Earth’s atmosphere has made the rounds, offering a bit of perspective on the size of the rock compared to the surrounding area:
It’s worth noting that the object had not been detected by scientists ahead of its arrival, due primarily to its small size. In terms of near-Earth objects, NASA’s primary focus at the moment is to develop a system that can detect space rocks which pose a serious threat to the planet and its inhabitants. A rock of this size isn’t exactly something that scientists worry about, but it’s a timely reminder that our Solar System still has plenty of surprises for us.