NASA Satellite Captures Image of Meteor Over the Bering Sea

Caitlin Dempsey

Updated:

Very bright meteors are known as fireballs.  These meteors are so bright, they can be seen over a very large area.  Since 1988, US government sensors have detected 775 such meteors.  On December 18, 2018,  the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite detected the aftermath of an explosion of a fireball  16 miles (26 kilometers) over the Bering Sea.  The explosion released 173 kilotons of energy which is the equivalent of ten times the energy of the atomic bomb released over Hiroshima during World War II.  Despite the force of the explosion, NASA officials state that the meteor posed no danger to anyone on the ground.

The trail of a fireball can be seen against the clouds over the Bering Sea on December 18, 2018. Source: NASA GSFC
The trail of a fireball can be seen against the clouds over the Bering Sea on December 18, 2018. Source: NASA GSFC

Images released by NASA show a dark shadow over the clouds from the meteor’s path through the Earth’s atmosphere.  A small cloud of yellow and orange marks the effect of the super heated air from the meteor’s passage.

Watch: Satellite Captures the Aftermath of a Meteor Over the Bering Sea

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.