When a meteorite struck near the crowded city of Managua, Nicaragua, Saturday, it had many residents in the densely-populated city fearing it was the end of days.
Reuters wrote that government officials, some calling the blast in the capital a “fascinating event,” said the enormous explosion was likely the result of an undetected meteorite that pierced the atmosphere without fully breaking apart.
As residents wound down their night about 11 p.m. local time, a loud and penetrating explosion — described as a sonic boom by some witnesses — was heard for many kilometers near the international airport.
First responders saw an area of impact left a crater some 40-feet across. Witnesses reported seeing plumes of smoke and liquid rising at the time of the percussion.
Although the sound caught many by surprise, the Central American isthmus has a history of earthquakes and volcanic explosions. But what alarmed experts is that the force from the impact was so large, it was detected by instruments typically used to record temblors.
“We are convinced that this was a meteorite. We have seen the crater from the impact,” said Wilfredo Strauss of the Seismic Institute.
Jose Millan, also from Ineter, concurred.
“All the evidence that we’ve confirmed on-site corresponds exactly with a meteorite and not with any other type of event. Firstly, we have the seismic register which coincides with the time of impact, and the typical characteristic that it produces a cone in the place of impact.”
However, Nicaragua is not equipped with the technology to conduct detailed tests of the space rock. Therefore, officials have requested the partnership with the United States, namely NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS).
Thankfully, the concussion from the small meteorite did not cause any injuries or fatalities in Nicaragua, but it was fodder for social media and omens for end of the world preppers.
“We need to celebrate the fact that it fell in an area where, thank God, it didn’t cause any danger to the population,” Millan added.
That said, as a matter of semantics, many typically use the wrong term when referring to space projectiles that travel throughout the galaxy. So what’s the Differences between an asteroid, comet, meteoroid, meteor and meteorite?
|Asteroid||A relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun.|
|Comet||A relatively small, at times active, object whose ices can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas.|
|Meteoroid||A small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun.|
|Meteor||The light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes; a shooting star.|
|Meteorite||A meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and lands upon the Earth’s surface.|
Early theories about the origin of the Nicaraguan meteorite point to asteroid 2014 RC, which was projected to make a close pass (25,000 miles) to earth around the same time of Sunday’s impact in Central America. The general thinking is that a portion of the asteroid broke off and plummeted towards earth and was pulled in by its gravity field.
[Image via El Universal]