Update: Nicaragua impact: meteorite, or not? JPL weighs in

nicaragua-meteorite

Credit: Nicaraguan Army/Associated Press

On Sunday September 7, Nicaraguan media reported that a meteorite had crashed to Earth near the Managua airport around 11 PM local time Saturday September 6. The impact made a crater 12 meters in diameter and 5.5 meters deep, according to La Nacion (ACAN-EFE). Associated Press and Reuters reported on the event, and those reports were widely distributed via other media channels. 

Media reports quoted a Nicaraguan spokesperson stating that 1) the crater was caused by a metorite impact and 2) the meteorite was a fragment of the asteroid 2014 RC, which NEO observers reported last week would safely fly by Earth on Sunday September 7.

My (knowledgeable) sources say that since the Nicaraguan impact occurred 13 hours before the fly-by of 2014 RC, the object that caused the impact could not have been a fragment of 2014 RC. 

My sources also have not yet determined whether the impact was caused by a meteorite of by something else. Stay tuned for more information from the experts on what caused this impact. 

La Nacion noted in its report that the impact occurred near a military installation, as well as the airport. One media report quoted an eyewitness – actually an ear-witness – who said he was sitting on his porch at the time of the impact and saw nothing but heard the explosion. That seems odd, since the impact occurred at night.

We don’t have the advantage of hundreds of automobile dashboard cameras recording this impact event, as we did with the Chelyabinsk impact of 2013. I haven’t seen any close-ups of the impact crater, which would be helpful to experts interested in determining what created it.

So, again, stay tuned for more definitive reports on what caused this impact. 

UPDATE: SEE http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news185.html – JPL’s NEO Program Office reports, “Reports in the media over the weekend that a small meteorite impacted in Nicaragua have yet to be confirmed. A loud explosion was heard near Managua’s international airport Saturday night, and photos of a 24-meter (80-foot) crater have been circulated. As yet, no eyewitness accounts or imagery have come to light of the fireball flash or debris trail that is typically associated with a meteor of the size required to produce such a crater. Since the explosion in Nicaragua occurred a full 13 hours before the close passage of asteroid 2014 RC, these two events are unrelated.”

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