A giant meteor exploded in the Earth's atmosphere in December


A giant meteor exploded in the Earth's atmosphere in December Wally Pacholka / Barcroft Media / Getty Images via CNN
A meteor sighted during the Geminids annual meteor shower on December 14, 2009. According to NASA, a "fireball" is an exceptionally bright meteor that can be seen over a great distance.

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While you lived your life on December 18, 2018, a huge space rock exploded more than 16 km from the surface of the Earth, releasing 10 times more energy than the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Not serious.

The event is rightly called a "fireball", a term used by NASA for "exceptionally bright meteors and spectacular enough to be seen over a very large area".

With an impact energy of 4.2 kilotons, the December fireball was the second most powerful power to enter the Earth 's atmosphere in 30 years. You may remember the first – this huge blinding fireball that rocked parts of Russia in 2013.

It may seem catastrophic, but the shared images of the December Fireball are actually quite poetic. This atomic force from another world appears as a simple red glow over the clouds.

But you probably did not know it until now, because the scientists were just noticing it. Indeed, the area where the fireball exploded, over the Bering Sea, is extremely isolated.

NASA's planetary defense officer, Lindley Johnson, told the BBC that a meteorite event of such power only occurs a few times every 100 years. (As a side note, "Planetary Defense Officer" is probably as close to the true title of "Avengers" as you'll get.)

CNN contacted NASA for an additional comment.

In case you are not worried about the fact that inflamed extraterrestrial objects continually invade our fragile planet, they do so with alarming regularity.

NASA closely follows most of the remarkable fireballs and racing cars (a similar astronomical term) that reach the Earth. Up until 2019, there have already been five notable Fireball events. Do not worry, though! Most are super tiny.

And if ever the big game made us all dinosaurs, the NASA Planetary Defense Office has our backs.

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