The flaming meteor seen hurtling through the sky above St. Louis late Monday was a basketball-sized chunk of rock that broke off an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, according to a report.
NASA experts used hundreds of eyewitness accounts about the celestial spectacle, along with two videos, to determine that the 220-pound meteor traveled at 33,500 mph – faster than the speed of sound – and produced a sonic boom, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
A space agency weather satellite helped confirm that the meteor — aka “Event: 20191112-025148” – was brighter than Venus.
It is possible some fragments of the meteor hit the ground, turning into meteorites, according to Bill Cooke of the NASA Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Alabama.
“It’s not like the movies,” said Cooke, who helps NASA missions avoid meteor risk. “Meteorites are not flaming rocks of doom. By the time a meteorite hits the ground, it’s completely cold.”
Meteorites also don’t typically make craters like in the movies — and are perfectly safe to pick up, he added.
“This isn’t Superman, and meteorites are not kryptonite,” he said, adding that they look a little like coal because the outside melts into a black outer layer called a fusion crust.
Only about two dozen confirmed meteorites have been found in Missouri since 1839, according to a website maintained by Randy Korotev, a researcher who recently retired from Washington University.
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