NASA has released images of a
huge meteor that exploded over Earth last year with more than 10 times the energy of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II.
“fireball,” NASA’s term for an exceptionally bright meteor visible over a wide area, exploded about 16 miles above the Bering Sea on Dec. 18. Although fireballs are quite common, this was the most powerful meteor scientists have tracked since 2013.
On Friday, NASA shared images of the fireball captured from
Terra, a satellite the size of a small school bus that is circling Earth on a north-to-south orbit every 99 minutes. The images were snapped a few minutes after the explosion, according to NASA. This image sequence shows views from the Terra satellite, a few minutes after a fireball exploded over the Bering Sea on Dec. 18, 2018. It was captured by Terra's Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR). (Photo: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team)
In one image sequence, a bright orange cloud left by the meteor is located on the lower right. The long, dark streak at the center of the image is actually a shadow of the meteor’s trail cast on top of clouds. The shadow is stretched out by the sun’s low angle.
A second image, captured by a different instrument aboard Terra, is a true-color photo of the remnants of the meteor’s passage.
The Terra satellite's Moderate Resolution Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MODIS) instrument snapped this true-color photo showing remnants of the Dec. 18 meteor's passage. (Photo: NASA/GSFC) Meteors, commonly known as “shooting stars,” are the visible paths of asteroid or comet fragments that enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Atmospheric friction causes the object to slow down, heat up, and eventually break apart. Fragments from the exploding space rock, called meteorites, are sometimes found on the ground.
Due to its altitude and remote location above the Bering Sea, NASA said the December fireball wasn’t a threat to humans.
In 2013, a large meteor
exploded above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, damaging buildings and injuring over 1,000 people. Also on HuffPost Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today. NASA image captured July 12, 2011 - With his feet secured on a restraint on the space station remote manipulator system's robotic arm or Canadarm2, NASA astronaut Mike Fossum (frame center) holds the Robotics Refueling Mission payload, which was the focus of one of the primary chores accomplished on a six and a half hour spacewalk on July 12. The failed pump module is with DEXTRE on left side of the photo. NASA astronauts Fossum and Ron Garan performed the six-hour, 31-minute spacewalk, which represents the final scheduled extravehicular activity during shuttle missions. Among Atlantis’s final contributions to the ISS is the Robotic Refueling Mission, developed at Goddard Space Flight Center. Atlantis brought this module to the International Space Station, where it will provide key support in maintaining future spacecrafts for years to come. STS-135 astronauts traveled to Goddard to complete special training for these robotics, a major component of the final shuttle mission. RRM is one of dozens of Goddard payloads to travel aboard orbiters into space throughout the 30-year flight history of the Shuttle Program. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Mission Specialist Bruce McCandless II, is seen further away from the confines and safety of his ship than any previous astronaut has ever been. This space first was made possible by the Manned Manuevering Unit or MMU, a nitrogen jet propelled backpack. After a series of test maneuvers inside and above Challenger's payload bay, McCandless went "free-flying" to a distance of 320 feet away from the Orbiter. This stunning orbital panorama view shows McCandless out there amongst the black and blue of Earth and space. (02/12/1984) The thin line of Earth's atmosphere and the setting sun are featured in this image photographed by a crew member on the International Space Station while space shuttle Atlantis (STS-129) remains docked with the station. 11/23/09 NASA image acquired July 19, 2011 - Silhouetted against the Earth, Atlantis flies into the rising Sun in this photograph taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station on July 19, 2011. On July 20, the shuttle undocked from the station for the final time and began preparations to return home. During their 13 days in space, the shuttle astronauts supplied the International Space Station with a new logistics module, tested tools, technologies, and techniques to refuel satellites in space, and collected old equipment from the space station. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory From 220 miles above Earth, one of the Expedition 25 crew members on the International Space Station took this night time photo featuring the bright lights of Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt on the Mediterranean coast. The Nile River and its delta stand out clearly as well. On the horizon, the airglow of the atmosphere is seen across the Mediterranean. 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The device contains the mechanical systems that drive the cooling functions for the port truss. A picturesque line of thunderstorms and numerous circular cloud patterns filled the view as the International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 20 crew members looked out at the limb (blue line on the horizon) of the Earth. The region shown in the astronaut photograph (top image) includes an unstable, active atmosphere forming a large area of cumulonimbus clouds in various stages of development. The crew was looking west-southwest from the Amazon Basin, along the Rio Madeira toward Bolivia when the image was taken. Mission Specialist John Grunsfeld is positioned on a foot restraint on the end of Atlantis' remote manipulator system and Andrew Feustel (top center), mission specialist, participate in the mission's fifth and final spacewalk. Close views of Paul Richards during an Extravehicular Activity (EVA) on the International Space Station (ISS). View STS102-346-021 is a crew pick selection. A close-up of Astronaut John Grunsfeld shows the reflection of Astronaut Andrew Feustel, perched on the robotic arm and taking the photo. The pair teamed together on three of the five spacewalks during Servicing Mission 4 in May 2009. The city lights of Spain and Portugal define the Iberian Peninsula in this photograph from the International Space Station (ISS). Several large metropolitan areas are visible, marked by their relatively large and brightly lit areas, including the capital cities of Madrid, Spain—located near the center of the peninsula’s interior—and Lisbon, Portugal—located along the southwestern coastline. The ancient city of Seville, visible to the north of the Strait of Gibraltar, is one of the largest cities in Spain. The astronaut view is looking toward the east, and is part of a time-lapse series of images. 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This panoramic view, photographed from the International Space Station, looking past the docked space shuttle Atlantis' cargo bay and part of the station including a solar array panel toward Earth, was taken on July 14 as the joint complex passed over the southern hemisphere. Aurora Australis or the Soutern Lights can be seen on Earth's horizon and a number of stars are visible also. Earth and its Moon are nicely framed in this image taken from the aft windows of the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998. Discovery - on mission STS-95 - was flying over the Atlantic Ocean at the time this image was taken. Earths horizon against the blackness of space is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS) on October 4, 2003 The thin line of Earth's atmosphere and the setting sun are featured in this image photographed by a crew member on the International Space Station while space shuttle Atlantis (STS-129) remains docked with the station. 11/23/09 This montage of three frames shows the Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft as it lands with Expedition 23 Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Wednesday, June 2, 2010. NASA Astronaut Creamer, Russian Cosmonaut Kotov and Japanese Astronaut Noguchi are returning from six months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 22 and 23 crews. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls) Sitting in the life raft, during the Apollo 12 Pacific recovery, are the three mission astronauts; Alan L. Bean, pilot of the Lunar Module (LM), Intrepid; Richard Gordon, pilot of the Command Module (CM), Yankee Clipper; and Spacecraft Commander Charles Conrad. The second manned lunar landing mission, Apollo 12 launched from launch pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 14, 1969 via a Saturn V launch vehicle. The Saturn V vehicle was developed by the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) under the direction of Dr. Wernher von Braun. The LM, Intrepid, landed astronauts Conrad and Bean on the lunar surface in what?s known as the Ocean of Storms, while astronaut Richard Gordon piloted the CM, Yankee Clipper, in a parking orbit around the Moon. Lunar soil activities included the deployment of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), finding the unmanned Surveyor 3 that landed on the Moon on April 19, 1967, and collecting 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of rock samples. Apollo 12 safely returned to Earth on November 24, 1969. Russian support personnel work to help get Expedition 29 crew members out of the Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft shortly after the capsule landed with Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum, and Flight Engineers Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa in a remote area outside of the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. NASA Astronaut Fossum, Russian Cosmonaut Volkov and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Astronaut Furukawa are returning from more than five months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 28 and 29 crews. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls) This article originally appeared on HuffPost.