A meteor that exploded over the Atlantic on Feb. 6 had more force than the Hiroshima bomb

massive meteor explosion recorded over atlantic asteroid 1200x0
Earlier this month, folks detecting atmospheric explosions for the United States government noticed something a bit out of the ordinary off the coast of Brazil. At roughly 2 p.m. UTC on February 6, a wayward meteor measuring roughly the size of a small living room entered Earth’s atmosphere and — while traveling over 34,000 miles per hour — exploded with an incredible amount of force. How much force, you ask? Think 13,000 tons of exploding trinitrotoluene (TNT), or more energy than what was given off by the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima.

According to recent data released by NASA’s Near Earth Object Program, the meteor was located some 1,150 miles southeast of the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, essentially in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. As it careened downwards, the object rapidly burned up and eventually exploded roughly 19 miles above the surface of the ocean. While the energy exerted will certainly raise eyebrows, rest assured, occurrences of this nature happen quite often and sometimes pack even more energy — e.g., the Chelyabinsk fireball in February 2013 released roughly 500,000 tons of TNT.

An approximate location of where the meteor exploded
An approximate location of where the meteor exploded

“The Earth is bombarded by debris from space to the tune of about 100 tons every day,” says Slate’s Phil Plait. “Most of the stuff is quite small, like the size of a grain of sand or smaller, and burns up 100 kilometers or so off the ground.”

Unfortunately for this latest event, the likelihood of anyone capturing the explosion on photo or video remains scarce considering it’s distant location off the coast of Brazil. Detection of the blast likely resulted from a combination of satellite imagery, atmospheric microphones, and seismic monitors, so even the people who initially stumbled upon this finding only had a series of data readings to work off of.

What’s maybe most chilling is the fact NASA (or any other agency, for that matter) has yet to perfect a method for detecting such meteors more than a few hours prior to impact. Though none have yet to pose a serious threat, the Chelyabinsk fireball did create a bit of a frenzy when it exploded in 2013, shattering a slew of windows which in turn caused injuries for more than 1,000 nearby civilians. NASA did recently open a facility whose sole purpose is to canvas space for asteroids bound for Earth, so perhaps it’s only a matter of time before events like these are known before they happen instead of weeks after.

Computing

Are AMD Navi GPUs coming soon? Reference found in MacOS hints at release date

Fresh off the announcement of Radeon Vega VII at CES 2019, in the latest rumors, source code references in macOS hint that the next 7nm AMD Navi products might be coming in July.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Emerging Tech

Water-based fuel cell converts carbon emissions to electricity

Scientists from Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Mobile

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Emerging Tech

ANYmal dog robot can get back on its feet when someone pushes it over

Roboticists at ETH Zurich have demonstrated how their ANYmal four-legged robot is capable of taking a kicking and keeping on walking -- or getting back to its feet if it's pushed over.
Emerging Tech

A.I. finds non-infringing ways to copy drugs pharma spends billions developing

Researchers have demonstrated an artificial intelligence which can find new methods for producing existing pharmaceuticals in a way that doesn’t infringe on existing patents. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Coinstar machines will let you swap cash for Bitcoin at your local grocery store

Coinstar, the company which owns the coin exchange machines found at grocery stores and elsewhere, will soon let you easily buy Bitcoin with your cash money. Here's how it will work.
Emerging Tech

Facebook hasn’t given up on the idea of building an internet drone

Facebook's efforts to provide internet connectivity from the skies using solar-powered drones suffered a blow last year when the company abandoned its "Aquila" drone project. But the company clearly hasn't given up on the idea.
Emerging Tech

World’s biggest fleet of campus delivery robots now transporting student meals

The world’s largest fleet of delivery robots on a university campus is coming to Fairfax County, Virginia’s George Mason University. Here's how the ordering and delivery process plays out.
Deals

Smart luggage does it all with wireless charger, built-in scale, GPS tracking

The SkyValet smart luggage, currently being funded on Kickstarter, offers solutions to many common travel struggles. With SkyValet, you no longer need separate portable chargers, a scale to weigh your bag, a lock, or a tracking device. It's…
Emerging Tech

The CRISPR baby saga continues as China confirms second gene-edited pregnancy

China’s official Xinhua news agency has confirmed that a second woman has become pregnant as part of a controversial experiment to create the world’s first genetically edited babies.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk offers to help dig CERN’s new particle collider tunnel

CERN plans to put the Large Hadron Collider to shame with its proposed much larger Future Circular Collider -- and Elon Musk wants to help. Because, you know, he's not busy enough.
Emerging Tech

Once again, a drone has reportedly caused a shutdown at a major airport

Reported drone sightings near New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport forced flights to be halted early Tuesday evening. One of the drones reportedly came within 30 feet of an aircraft.