The agency release a video through its ScienceAtNASA YouTube channel this week explaining what happened, and why no one saw it coming.
One of the most surprising things about the Russian meteor is that when it hit everyone was looking to see asteroid 2012 DA14 buzz by the Earth a little more than 17,000 miles away. The object that hit Russia wasn’t on anyone’s radar because it came from the direction of the Sun, hiding it from view.
Bill Cooke from NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said the Russian meteor was in no way connected to DA14. “The fact that they reached Earth on the same day, one just a little closer than the other, appears to be a complete coincidence,” he said.
New data from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization was gathered using infrasound sensors that normally monitor nuclear explosions. The meteor hit with the impact of 470 kilotons of TNT, which is equivalent to about 30 times to power of the bomb that hit Hiroshima in World War II. Infrasound is very low-frequency sound waves that humans can’t hear, but some other animals, like homing pigeons, can detect it.
Analysts used the trajectory of the meteor to determine that it came from an asteroid belt about 2.5 times farther from the Sun than the Earth.