NASA, the United States space agency confirmed that a fireball asteroid exploded over the Russian city of Lipetsk on June 21, 2018. The incredible sky sighting was visible from the cities of Kursk, Voronezh, and Orel, and witnesses were shocked to see the asteroid exploding in the sky and then hurtling towards the earth.
Witnesses also reported a loud sonic boom due to the impact. As of now, no damage or injuries were reported from the area.
Details of the incident
The news of the fireball exploding incident initially came to limelight when a local resident captured the sighting and uploaded it online. The sighting was also detected by nine stations operated by the International Monitoring System (IMS).
The International Meteor Organization, on their website, wrote that the event was caught by several weather satellites too.
"The computed location of the event is 51.96° N, 37.75° E and its time 01:09:10 UTC. We determined a source energy of the fireball to be the equivalent of about 3.2 kt TNT which corresponds to an entering asteroid of about 4 meters in diameter using the velocity published by CNEOS/NASA," wrote International Meteor Organization.
NASA delayed in spotting the fireball
Even though NASA is initiating several plans to spot asteroids hurtling towards earth, the space agency delayed to spot this fireball over Russia until it made an impact. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology detected the asteroid after it hit Russia and after initial analysis, they revealed that the space body reached earth at a velocity of 14.4 kilometers per second.
Recently, NASA proposed three potential ways by which life-threatening asteroids can be deflected from its course. The space agency suggested that the usage of a gravity tractor is one of the simplest and best ways by which an asteroid can be deflected from its trajectory. In this method, the space agency will fly a large spacecraft beside the asteroid, and its gravitational pull is expected to nudge the space rock away.
The second way by which an asteroid can be deflected is by using a spacecraft. As per this method, a spacecraft will be used to fly straight into the asteroid, thus disrupting its trajectory. The third and the most cinematic method is to deflect the asteroid using nuclear bombs.