Photo by: Michael Dunning

Michael Dunning

Fireball Meteor Soars Over Vermont

NASA identifies a meteor as it shoots over the Northeast, causing buildings to shake and a ‘nice little firework’ in the sky.

March 11, 2021

On the evening of March 7, a little entertainment was provided by the sky: a meteor traveling over the state of Vermont that was identified by seismometers on Earth. The space rock burst through the Earth's atmosphere causing a shockwave that was measured and heard by not only space instruments, but also eyewitnesses within the vicinity. Many bystanders reported seeing a bright fireball around 5:30 pm local time, according to NBC News.

The next day (March 8), NASA updated the data collected and was able to infer that the “meteor was traveling at around 42,000 miles per hour,” which is 55 times faster than the speed of sound and 20 times faster than a rifle bullet, according to Newsweek.

While the meteor shattered the Earth’s atmosphere, simultaneously air resistance was created, pressure was building up in front of the asteroid, and a vacuum was forming behind it. The differences in these pressures caused the meteor to fiercely burst with force of around 440 pounds of TNT, Newsweek notes. NASA explained, “[s]uch a pressure wave can also couple into the ground, causing minor 'tremors' that can be picked up by seismic instruments in the area." NASA utilized three infrasound stations located around the vicinity in order to measure how impactful the force was. These infrasound stations have identified meteors explosions before by detecting low frequency sounds that travel far distances.

NASA was able to calculate characteristics of the meteor with the approximated speed and force of explosion to conclude that, “the meteor was probably about six inches across and weighed 10 pounds. The agency also said it was likely the space rock was once part of a larger asteroid that it had split away from,” Newsweek reports.

NASA posted on Facebook providing additional information on the meteor as they described it as “[a] nice little firework, courtesy of Mother Nature.” Multiple eyewitnesses chimed in on the post- from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Quebec, Canada -commenting that they too either saw the magic in the sky (which lasted about 2 seconds, according to Newsweek), heard the explosion-like sound near the trajectory, or felt their homes rattle for a moment or so.

Next Up

NASA HQ to be Named in Honor of Mary W. Jackson

NASA announced Wednesday, June 24th that NASA's Washington, D.C. headquarters will now be named for Mary W. Jackson, the first black, female engineer at NASA.

The Last Supermoon of the Year and How to See It

The Super Flower Moon of May is this year's last supermoon, when the Moon appears slightly larger and brighter in the sky because it is somewhat closer to Earth. Here's everything you need to know and how to watch it from home.

NASA Astronauts Take on Two Spacewalks at the International Space Station

Updated July 1, 2020 Six Days. Two spacewalks. Both Successful.

Who Wants to Be an Astronaut?

If you've ever wanted to travel into space, this is your chance. No, really. Even you.

Romeo and Juliet: The Story of Galaxy Collisions

Our Milky Way galaxy is on a collision course. With destiny. With destruction. With fate. With our nearest neighbor, Andromeda. You can stream HOW THE UNIVERSE WORKS on discovery+.

Waste In Space: NASA's Lunar Loo Challenge

Would YOU like to design one of the next toilets used in space?

Something Funky is Happening to the Earth’s Magnetic Field

Recently a weak spot in the Earth's magnetic field over the southern Atlantic Ocean has been getting weaker, which could signal the beginnings of a global magnetic reversal event. Or not. It’s complicated.

NASA and SpaceX to Launch a Crewed Mission to ISS in May 2020

For the first time since its conception 18 years ago, SpaceX, along with NASA, will launch a crewed mission to space.

The Great Conjunction is Coming and it's Going to be Epic

On December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer to each other than they have in nearly 400 years. This once in four lifetimes cosmic event will be visible to many--clear skies permitting--but Lowell Observatory has you covered either way.

The Future of Space Exploration

Over the past couple decades, the space-minded folks around the world have debated the relative merits of the two possible destinations for space exploration. Moon or Mars?

Related To: