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The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea. From below, the only witnesses to this fiery event may have been the fish that inhabit the frigid waters between Russia and Alaska, as no human eye caught sight of it. A meteor is the luminous phenomenon that results when an asteroid or other celestial body enters the Earth s atmosphere. It is commonly called a shooting star. If it does not fully vaporise and some part of it hits the Earth s surface, it is called a meteorite. One of the first researchers to detect the event was Peter Brown, a meteor scientist at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Western Ontario. On March 8, he was poring over December data from the system used by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization to detect atmospheric explosions caused by nuclear tests. The ...


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