News / Science & Technology

Deadly Meteorites Routinely Explode on Earth

Deadly Meteorites Routinely Explode on Earthi
X
George Putic
May 14, 2014 12:40 PM
Space rocks often enter the Earth’s atmosphere and usually explode and burn before falling to the ground. About 70 percent of our planet is covered with water so most of them disappear on the oceans’ floor and we would not know about them if it was not for an international agency. VOA’s George Putic reports.
George Putic
Last year, a meteorite exploded 23 kilometers above Chelyabinsk, Russia. 

It was estimated to be 18 meters long with the mass of about 10,000 tons. If it had fallen in a populated area, an entire city could have been devastated. Luckily, the meteorite disintegrated and most of the fragments fell into Lake Chebarkul.

Space rocks often enter the Earth’s atmosphere and usually explode and burn before falling to the ground. About 70 percent of our planet is covered with water so most of them disappear beneath the oceans’ surface.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Preparatory Commission (CTBTO), based in Vienna, Austria, says the Earth is visited by meteorites more often than is widely known.

“Since meteorites are sometimes entering the atmosphere, and they are creating loud air bursts," said acoustic officer Pierrick Mialle. "Then we will record those at some of the stations."

The commission controls a worldwide network of seismic, hydrostatic, ultrasound and radioactivity sensors that monitor possible violations of the Nuclear Test ban treaty. They also document meteor encounters. Between 2000 and 2013, 26 powerful explosions of large meteorites were recorded entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

The B612 foundation, which monitors meteorite impacts, estimates at least four of them were stronger than the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

In addition to loud noise, explosions create low frequency infrasound, out of humans' hearing range, which can travel very long distances.

The February 2013 explosion of the Chelyabinsk meteorite was recorded by CTBTO stations as far as Antarctica.
 
Mialle says listening stations have an array of four to 15 high-technology sensors.

“They are called micro barometer because they measure micro fluctuations of the atmosphere," Mialle said. "It’s like a large microphone except there’s no membrane.”

Some of the explosions are hard to identify immediately after detection.

“For instance, the first time we had this, what was later called the Super Bolide of North Pacific, in the first few weeks all that was known was a large event in the middle of the Pacific, but we didn’t know what it was,” Mialle said.

The commission keeps contact with other agencies that track meteorites, such as NASA,  which later confirmed that the mysterious explosion was caused by a meteorite.

When complete, the CTBTO system will have 337 stations worldwide monitoring nuclear explosions and other loud sounds in the atmosphere.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid