Experts have now confirmed that the loud boom that rocked California and Nevada over the weekend was a meteorite, about the size of a minivan, exploding in the earth’s atmosphere. Many saw the fireball or heard the rumbling or explosion and some even got pics.
Scientists say the giant fireball that exploded in daylight on Sunday around 8 am was a rare phenomenon and much bigger than most meteors.
Bill Cooke, an expert on meteor activity from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, says its disintegration probably released energy equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion. That’s a third the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
The mini-van sized asteroid took NASA by surprise as they had not been tracking the object. “There are millions of objects of that size that we don’t know about,” he said. “They’re too small to image unless they’re right up on top of you.”
Already, Robert Ward from Reno Nevada who has been collecting meteorites for more than 20 years, found a piece of it — a small piece about the size of a nickel. His find was confirmed by NASA scientists as being one of the more primitive types of space rocks out there, dating to the early formation of the solar system 4 to 5 billion years ago.
Ward said that he said he knew immediately that this meteorite was something special and actually found two pieces. He suspects that they came from one piece that had broken apart on impact as the meteorite entered the earth’s atmosphere.
Ward has quite a collection that includes meteorites from every continent but Anarctica and goes by “AstroBob” on his website and said he knew immediately that the rare meteorite was “CM” – carbonaceous chondrite – based in part on the “fusion crusts from atmospheric entry” on one side of the rock.
“It is one of the oldest things known to man and one of the rarest types of meteorites there is,” he said. “It contains amino acids and organic compounds that are extremely important to science.”