NASA said a 60ft space alien menacing Earth wouldn't harm us: Tell THAT to Nicaragua
What caused a 40-foot crater to appear?
Pics The Nicaraguan government reckons a meteorite that created a huge hole in the ground just outside its capital's main airport may have been part of the 2014 RC asteroid that skimmed past Earth at the weekend.
Some NASA experts aren't so sure, however. In fact, they've practically ruled it out.
Nicaraguan meteorite shows its power. Credit: AP
The impact occurred late on Saturday night, and made a crater 12 metres (40 feet) across and five meters (16 feet) deep. The Nicaraguan authorities have set up a commission to investigate the smash, but government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said it appears that it was caused by a "relatively small" meteorite that "appears to have come off an asteroid that was passing close to Earth," AP reports.
The impact was unusual in that there is no record of anyone seeing a streak of light – a telltale sign of a highly heated rock plummeting to Earth – said Wilfried Strauch, an adviser to the Institute of Territorial Studies in Nicaragua. But locals in the central American country said they heard, rather than saw, the alien object's crash.
"I was sitting on my porch and I saw nothing, then all of a sudden I heard a large blast. We thought it was a bomb because we felt an expansive wave," Jorge Santamaria told AP.
"No sign of any Arachnids here, sarge." Credit: AFP
The asteroid, nicknamed Pitbull by NASA but officially dubbed 2014 RC, skimmed past our world at a distance of 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) on Sunday morning. The US space agency predicted that there would be no risk of it hitting the Earth.
That was true, and Pitbull is now on walkies away from us – but it appears either part of the 60-foot-wide asteroid got pulled in by Earth's gravity, or that the asteroid have several chunks of space rock in close attendance that were missed by astronomers. That's certainly possible, since the asteroid was only discovered on August 31 and the amount of time and money spent looking for such dangers is pitifully lacking.
Either that or someone decided to blow a 16ft hole in the ground. NASA asteroid expert Don Yeomans said:
This event was separated by 13 hours from the close Earth approach of 2014 RC, so the explosion and the asteroid are unrelated. There was no obvious optical fireball or debris trail seen prior to the explosion, so it seems unlikely that the explosion in Nicaragua was related to a meteorite impact.
The crater is now being investigated by boffins, and access to it is being restricted, given its proximity to the airport and one of Nicaragua's main air force bases. Scientists are hoping to find debris from the rock itself so that they can better ascertain where exactly it came from.
As for 2014 RC, the asteroid is now heading out into space; astronomers warn that it will be back at some point, although it's not considered an immediate threat. ®