Tags: meteorite | nicaragua | asteroid

Meteorite Nicaragua: Did Chunk of Close-Call Asteroid Break Off?

Image: Meteorite Nicaragua: Did Chunk of Close-Call Asteroid Break Off?
In this Sunday Sept. 7, 2014, publicly distributed handout photo shows an impact crater made by a small meteorite in a wooded area near Managua's international airport and an air force base. (AP Photo/Nicaraguan Army)

By    |   Monday, 08 Sep 2014 06:56 AM

A meteorite some scientists believe may have broken away from an asteroid passing near Earth crashed close to Nicaragua's international airport in Managua, leaving a 40-foot wide crater at its impact.

No injuries were reported from the crashing meteorite that scared residents when it hit the ground with a loud bang from impact on Saturday night, leaving a hole five meters deep just before midnight, officials told the BBC News.

Meanwhile, NASA reported that the 60-foot asteroid 2014 RC, passed "very close" Earth on Sunday, making its closest approach at 2:18 p.m. Eastern time when it would be over New Zealand.

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NASA said 2014 RC was first discovered Aug. 31 by the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson and independently detected the next night by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope Maui.

"While this celestial object does not appear to pose any threat to Earth or satellites, its close approach creates a unique opportunity for researchers to observe and learn more about asteroids," NASA said in a statement last week. "While 2014 RC will not impact Earth, its orbit will bring it back to our planet's neighborhood in the future. The asteroid's future motion will be closely monitored, but no future threatening Earth encounters have been identified."

Humberto Garcia, of the Astronomy Center at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, told the Associated Press that the meteorite could be tied to 2014 RC.

"We have to study it more because it could be ice or rock," Garcia told the AP.

Humberto Saballos, a volcanologist with the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies, told the AP that scientists were not sure if the meteorite disintegrated before impact or was buried in the crater at the scene.

Nearby residents told the AP that they did not see anything streaking light in the sky before hearing the loud boom of the crash. The news agency said only state media was allowed to visit the crater site.

The Earth has had numerous close calls with meteors. In February 2013, BBC News reported that a meteorite exploded over Chelyabinsk in central Russia, injuring more than 1,000 people.

NASA tracks more than 11,000 asteroids in orbits around the Earth which has the potential of passing relatively close to the planet, according to the BBC News.

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A meteorite some scientists believe may have broken away from an asteroid passing near Earth crashed close to Nicaragua's international airport in Managua, leaving a 40-foot wide crater at its impact.
meteorite, nicaragua, asteroid
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2014-56-08
Monday, 08 Sep 2014 06:56 AM
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