If you were worried that the giant flaming <a href="https://thegoldwater.com/news/16273-Residents-In-Michigan-Shaken-By-Fireball-In-The-Sky">fireball</a> that exploded in the Michigan night sky Tuesday might have been the Chinese space station falling from orbit or an alien spacecraft, you don't have to worry anymore. NASA says the fireball seen over southeast Michigan last night was just a 2-ton asteroid entering the atmosphere and exploding during entry.
Bill Cooke, a lead for NASA meteoroid environment office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama says, "If you look at the Township of Hamburg, there may be meteorites between Hamburg Township and Lakeland. It’s about a two-mile stretch along state road M-36. It passes through both Hamburg and Lakeland. It’s pretty precise."
Cooke said around 8:08 p.m. Eastern time last night, a piece of an asteroid approximately 2 yards across and weighing around two tons hit the Earth's atmosphere at about 28,000 miles per hour. The rock violently broke into pieces about 20 miles from the surface creating the fireball witnessed by thousands of people.
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Here you can hear astronomer Kurt Melvin of Conway Township talk about hearing the meteor explosion and what type of debris may be left in the aftermath. Cooke tells any would-be meteorite hunters to be wary, the pieces of rock belong to the owners of the property on which they landed.
Cooke went on to say that the breaking up of an asteroid is fairly common and happens around 10 times per year over the United States. The asteroids cause giant fireballs or flashes of light to be witnessed by many, this time it was unusual because it occurred over a densely populated area.
"The reason it is a big deal is because it occurred near a major city, Detroit," Cooke said. "A lot of people saw this." The Livingston County 911 director, Chad Chewning, said the dispatch center became flooded with between 20 to 25 emergency calls from people who witnessed the explosion.
"They were reporting unknown flashes or explosions," Chewning said. "It only generated two fire calls that were unfounded. We have never experienced anything like this from dispatch with a meteor or anything space related since I have been here." The NASA Meteor Watch Facebook page shared this infographic on the sighting.
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