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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
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 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 Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
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.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid