NASA: Asteroid entered atmosphere over Arizona

Posted at 4:28 AM, Jun 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-03 08:47:57-04


A huge streak of light brightened the sky early Thursday morning, prompting worry and curiosity from many Valley residents.

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The first reports came in right around 4 a.m. from around the Valley and even in areas like Yuma, Flagstaff and Pine Top. Several callers also reported feeling the ground shake.

After dawn, a strange trail of cloud-like patterns was left in the sky.

NASA estimates a small asteroid, approximately 10 feet in diameter with a mass in the tens of tons, entered the atmosphere above Arizona just before 4 a.m. Reports place the object 57 miles above the Tonto National Forest, east of Payson. It was last seen 22 miles above the forest.

According to NASA, there were no reports of any damage or injuries, only light and sonic booms.

NASA believes there are meteorites scattered on the ground north of Tucson.

NASA is having difficulties obtaining data on the fireball because many cameras were saturated by the bright light.

The Arizona Geological Survey's seismic network didn't pick up any impacts. Michael Conway of the survey says that could mean the object broke up in the sky and that the impacts of any remnants were too small to be recorded.

Astronomy expert Steve Kates, better known as "Dr. Sky", said it's a very likely chance that it was a meteor bolide, meaning "brighter than the sun."

Dr. Sky says there's also a very good chance that debris hit the ground, judging by its apparent size.

Laurence Garvie, curator of the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University, says radar footage shows that meteorites may have fallen to the ground early Thursday morning near the eastern Arizona community of Cibecue.

The American Meteor Society is also investigating Thursday's event.

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