Last week, local media reports indicated that a meteorite hit the Cuban city of Viñales after flying over the Florida Keys, with residents reporting a great sonic crash and seeing a trail in the sky. The event was apparently captured by the Radar of the Key West National Weather Service about 26,000 feet off the ground as well as captured on film by locals and a webcam in Ft. Myer connected to EarthCam.
– Scott Sutherland (️️️) (@ScottWx_TWN) February 2, 2019
Remnants of the meteorite on Viñales, west of Cuba, evident in # Goes16 Difference between GLM, Diffuse Window Difference and Sulfur Dioxidehttp: //t.co/yQsbCadv4ghttps: //t.co/WRmGQbnXPC pic.twitter.com/L4gLjCF4n6
– Brendon (@brendonme) February 1, 2019
Now we know how powerful this event was. According to new data posted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Earth Object Center and CNET-Signed, the collision of the object with the atmosphere released the energy of about 1,400 tons of TNT.
This may seem like a lot (and it is). But such events are relatively common, usually go by without much fanfare. Approximately 71% of the earth's surface is covered by water, and humans are far from evenly distributed across their lands, meaning that many impacts occur with few or no human eyewitnesses.
A series of impacts in 2018 surpassed last week, although, as CNET noted, the detonation of Cuba has been one of the most notable since the meteor that hit Chelyabinsk, Russia, near the border of the country with Kazakhstan in 2013 Scientists say the explosion was detonated by more than 470 kilotons of TNT, or nearly as strong as the MK-18 "Ivy King" in 1952, the largest pure fission bomb ever tested by the US at 500 kilotons. According to an informative report from Tulane University, the Chelyabinsk object was probably about 17 to 20 meters in diameter.
#CUBA: This is a close-up of a #Rock people in the Viñales area believes is part of the #meteorite who fell in the area. You can see that this is almost the size of a #Mobile telephone. @ WPLGLocal10 pic.twitter.com/xDO0jy6tCO
– Hatzel Vela (@HatzelVelaWPLG) February 1, 2019
Reporters of @TelePinar in the #MuraldelaPrehistoria Viñales #PinarDelRio They notice black stones falling from around 7 cm after a great rumble. @fatimaTelePinar investigate #Cuba pic.twitter.com/NLLvVcr18U
– Rolando Segura (@rolandoteleSUR) February 1, 2019
The object that exploded on Cuba was probably much smaller, probably the size of a van. Cuban media reported that locals found what they believed to be what was left after it burned into the atmosphere in the form of small black rocks the size of a cell phone. Only minor damage to the property, like broken windows – probably from the sonic boom generated by the object, surpassing the speed of sound – would have resulted without injury. [CNET]
Featured image: Juan Alberto Pérez Pozo (YouTube)