Residents of Managua, Nicaragua had an interesting Saturday night. A meteorite came crashing down, causing a thunderous explosion and leaving a crater more than 39 feet across government officials told the AP. Luckily, no injuries were reported.
Questions about where the “relatively small” meteorite came from remain.
A government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said the meteorite “appears to have come off an asteroid that was passing close to Earth.”
Murillo seems to be referring to a recently discovered asteroid called 2014 RC. This asteroid passed safely by Earth on Sunday. It was a relatively close shave though, with the asteroid about one-tenth the distance between the Earth and the moon. So far, NASA has not confirmed any link between 2014 RC and the meteorite impact in Nicaragua on Saturday night.
Local media is reporting that scientists are still looking for the remains of the asteroid and is seeking help from the U.S. to investigate the impact zone.
NASA’s Near Earth Object Program is woefully underfunded and undermanned. There are thousands of asteroids that could potentially threaten our planet. The one’s NASA are tracking don’t pose a threat, but plenty of them go undiscovered. The most high-profile of which exploded above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013. That asteroid led to blown out windows and more than 1,000 people injured.
Saturday’s impact came within 1,000 of the Camino Real Hotel according to the Nicaragua Dispatch.
Let’s hope NASA gets the funding they need to better track any potential Earth-bound asteroids.
Image credit: El 19 Digital.