UPDATE on the big meteor over Florida Keys and Cuba on February 2, 2019
A big meteor exploded in the skies over southern Florida and northwest Cuba yesterday local early afternoon, February 1. It produced a damaging sonic boom and dropped meteorites in Cuba. Here is some new information.
Sonic booms rattled northwestern Cuba, reportedly damaging and breaking windows. Sonic booms are common with meteors that penetrate deep into the atmosphere and produce meteorite falls. Eyewitness reports of the brilliant meteor compiled by the American Meteor Society produce a preliminary track for the meteor which aligns well with the reported meteorite fall.
Meteorite fall is now confirmed near Viñales, Cuba. Reported meteorites exhibit typical characteristics of fresh meteorite falls, with partially or fully developed dark fusion crust enveloping the meteorites. A fusion crust forms during the meteorite’s fiery blast through the atmosphere. On the inside the meteorites appear grayish, typical for stony meteorites. At least one reported meteorite displays flow lines indicating oriented flight: the melted surface was exposed to constant flow as the meteorite descended, producing flow lines. Some black veins are apparent on exposed fresh breaks in the meteorites in some photos, indicating prior shock fracturing of the rock, likely during its time in the main asteroid belt. There is no official number of recovered meteorites, however, dozens have been reported and the number in such larger meteorite falls can go into hundreds or even thousands. It is likely that only a very small percentage of the incoming rock (meteoroid) survived, maybe in the 1-3% range.
#CUBA: This is a close up of a #rock people in the #Viñales area believe is part of the #meteorite that fell in the area. You can see this one is almost the size of a #mobile phone. @WPLGLocal10 pic.twitter.com/xDO0jy6tCO
— Hatzel Vela (@HatzelVelaWPLG) 1 February 2019
— Mario J. Pentón (@mariojose_cuba) 1 February 2019
Note the radial flow lines on the meteorite on the left.
The first images of one of the stones that seem to have fallen in the area of #ValleDeLaPrehistoria in #PinardelRio begin to appear. Still not confirmed. Journalists and experts are already in the area. #Cuba #meteorite #meteor 🛑☄️🔥 pic.twitter.com/gRVnZ7Dt99
— Teacher From PR 🇺🇸🇵🇷 (@MaestroDEPR) 1 February 2019
Satellites detected both the flash of the meteor and its smoke trail:
The GOES-16 Lightning Mapper (GLM) may have caught the flash from the #Cuba meteorite this aftn. This 4-panel shows an extensive “flash” occurring in a mostly sunny scene. Day Cloud Phase RGB (UL), 10.35um Clean IR (UR), .64um VIS (LL), regional radar (LR) pic.twitter.com/atrtXjzOSf
— Steve Cobb (@imnotycobb) 1 February 2019
— Brendon (@brendonme) 1 February 2019
Falling meteorites possibly detected by US NWS weather radar:
@NWSKeyWest radar may have detected the meteor that affected western Cuba earlier today. At 121 pm, a signature was detected near Viñales, Cuba, at a height of over 26,000 ft above ground level. #flwx #KeyWest #FloridaKeys #meteor pic.twitter.com/R2JIlVwpsS
— NWS Key West (@NWSKeyWest) 1 February 2019
First estimates of released energy in this event based on infrasound detections of the meteor by distant sensors in Canada indicate an initial size of the meteoroid was about 2 m at maximum and the released energy was about the same as an explosion of 400 tons of TNT.
My initial estimate of 4 m might be significant overestimate. According to update from @pgbrown, infrasound suggests fraction of a kiloton. ~1000 times smaller than Chelyabinsk & scaling makes Cuba object more like ~2 m. Objects this size hit Earth every few weeks on average. https://t.co/9pLMMi1AP4
— Mark Boslough (@MarkBoslough) 2 February 2019
We will be providing additional updates as new information becomes available.