Asteroids Caused Nuclear-Scale Explosions

Some more powerful than an atom bomb

Apr 23, 2014
Outside Magazine

   Getty Images

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's an asteroid? Believe it or not, there have been 26 nuclear-scale explosions in Earth's atmosphere between 2000 and 2013, the Guardian reports. 

One of the blasts was stronger than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Not to worry though. Most of the explosions occurred over the ocean or too high above the planet to really do any damage—but an energy yield equivalent to 16 kilotons of TNT is nothing to sneeze at.

What would happen if an asteroid that size hit a populated area? Scientists say we earthlings might be more vulnerable to asteroids than we think. Just last year, a 500-kiloton meteor explosion hit over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk, causing extensive damage. 

This time-lapse video released by the B612 Foundation, an asteroid-hunting nonprofit founded by former NASA astronauts dedicated to protecting the Earth from threatening asteroids, shows just how frequently the fiery rocks pound our little planet.

The foundation is currently trying to build a privately funded infrared space telescope that will spot dangerous asteroids before they come too close. Of course, if that doesn't work, we can always call up these guys.

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