NASA says car-sized meteor caused fireball over Australia

Brittany A. Roston - May 24, 2019, 1:44pm CDT
NASA says car-sized meteor caused fireball over Australia

Earlier this week, Australian media reported that two different fireballs streaked over the nation’s southern skies, including one on Tuesday that resulted in a stunning flash of light. The event was recorded by a number of cameras throughout South Australia, revealing the brief presence of a glowing ball that, in some videos, appeared like a blue sphere across the horizon.

According to ABC’s Australian affiliate, two fireballs were reported earlier this week, with the major one having been spotted by individuals located in South Australia and Victoria. Based on witness reports and videos, the event involved a large, bright fireball that streaked across the sky before disappearing from sight.

Unlike many of the small shooting stars often seen in the dark remote skies, this event is described as having been substantial. The fireball was detected by multiple monitoring agencies, including Geoscience Australia, which reports that the meteor zoomed by around 400km / 248mi south of Adelaide.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Dr. Steve Chesley told local media that the fireball was likely caused by a meteor the size of a small car. Though substantial, this size isn’t particularly notable, with similarly sized meteors causing fireballs around the globe a handful of times every year.

Multiple officials have explained that the meteor broke apart into fragments as it entered the atmosphere — the pieces could potentially have caused damage if they had fallen over a populated area, but that fortunately wasn’t the case. Based on estimates, the fragments are likely now in the ocean.

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