A formerly undiscovered asteroid entered the Earth’s environment and exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, 2,200 miles off the coast of Venezuela yesterday.
The rock, the dimension of a car is approximated to have had an impact of around 750 tons of TNT. Small in cosmic conditions but enough to have triggered large problems if it had hit a population center.
It has been named 2014AA, a number letter combination that indicates it was the first asteroid discovered this year, sadly it was discovered somewhat late…like after it exploded.
This incident serves to remind us all that the mission to map all space debris, junk and rocks that are likely to pose a threat to the planet is far from complete.
In other space news sunspot AR1944 is now twice the size of Earth and contains a dozen dark cores with the magnetic energy to throw off powerful flares. The spot is so big it can be seen at sunset with the naked eye.
Photo: Raymund Sarmiento of Quezon City, the Philippines
The effect of any flares today will be mitigated by the fact that the sunspot is not yet directly facing Earth. However, even an off-center blast from this behemoth could produce radio blackouts and geomagnetic activity.
NOAA has increased their estimate of M-class flares to 75% and X-class to 30% over the next 24 hours.
Solar wind from the large Earth-facing coronal hole is giving rise to spectacular aurorae, such as this photographed by Chad Blakley in Sweden.
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