A mysterious explosion that rocked Nicaragua on Saturday night, creating a 39ft-wide (12 metre) crater, appears to have been caused by a small meteorite. And authorities in the region believe the meteorite was in fact a shard of rock from the 2014 RC ‘pitbull’ asteroid that soared past Earth over the weekend.
But the Experts doubts about whether a loud boom and a gaping crater were caused by a meteorite, as the government has said.
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration said that while a meteorite cannot be ruled out, the lack so far of any eyewitness accounts of a fireball lighting up the nighttime sky outside the capital, Managua, suggests something else was likely behind the event.
Photos showed a crater about 39 feet (12 meters) wide in a wooded area near Managua’s international airport.
Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, estimated that it would have been created by a blast of roughly the energy equivalent of 1 ton of TNT.
Dr Dan Brown, an astronomy expert at Nottingham Trent University, told MailOnline: ‘The possible meteorite impact in Nicaragua, linked with the asteroid 2014 RC which flew by Earth last night, raises some interesting questions.
‘Although the impact occurred roughly 12 hours before the asteroid passed Earth, that part of the planet was facing in the right direction for it to have been a fragment associated with it.
‘If it was an unrelated object, however, then it further demonstrates how we don’t really monitor all the potentially dangerous rocks out there.’
Incer and Lindley Johnson, a program executive for NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program, agreed that whatever happened in Nicaragua had nothing to do with an asteroid that flew past Earth this weekend.
At the time of the explosion, the object known as 2014 RC was about as far away as the moon, Johnson said. 2014 RC’s passage close to the planet happened some 13 hours later.
Cooke said there could be any number of alternative explanations, ranging from ordnance to “someone out blowing things up.”
The site of the crater is near Managua’s international airport and an air force base. Only journalists from state media were allowed to visit it.