On June 2, 2016, a small asteroid exploded over Arizona, USA. According to NASA it was a 3 meter wide asteroid from beyond the orbit of Mars. The airburst shook the ground below and produced a flash of light ten times brighter than a full Moon.
Shortly after the explosion, Mike Lerch walked out the front door of his house in Phoenix on the way to work and that when he saw fantastic lights in the sky.
“At first I thought it was a rocket launch,” says Lerch. “Now I realize it was debris from the asteroid.” Indeed, the smokey remains were widely visible as they twisted in the winds high above Arizona.
The flash itself was so bright, it briefly turned night into day. Marsha Adams from Sedona, Arizona managed to capture the event on camera before, during, and after the asteroid explosion
Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office says this is the brightest fireball detected in the 8-year history of the NASA’s All Sky Fireball Network, an array of cameras that monitors fireball activity across the USA.
The fact that the explosion blinded most cameras that saw it initially complicated analysts’ efforts to pinpoint its nature and origin. Ultimately, however, they were able to draw firm conclusions: The mass of the asteroid was some tens of tons and it exploded with a kinetic energy of approximately 10 kilotons.