Image taken from the Geo Stationary Meteorological satellite shows a bright spot over the Baturité Massif Region (Photo: Romário Fernandes)
Last Saturday (10), a small asteroid was seen entering the atmosphere through the sky of Ceará. The space rock, identified as a bolide, caused a crash that was heard in the Massif de Baturité, south of Fortaleza, causing curiosity among the population.
Theories about a possible plane crash or earthquake have been raised. But a team of astronomers from the Brazilian Meteor Observation Network (Bramon) confirmed that it was the fall of an asteroid – a rare phenomenon in the state, with a similar event that last occurred in 1991, in the city of Campos Sales.
At the exact moment the bolide was seen entering the Earth’s atmosphere, at 6:42 am, Bramon’s meteorological satellite GOES-16 (in Portuguese, Brazilian Meteor Monitoring Network) detected a large flash on its GLM instrument, used for mapping of lightning. According to astronomer Lauriston Trindade, as there were no clouds, the event could only indicate the entry of a possible asteroid. Shortly afterwards, the team obtained images from the Clima ao Vivo camera, which recorded the passage of the meteor in the sky of Fortaleza.
The sound of the asteroid explosion and fragmentation after entering the atmosphere, was heard mainly in the Massif de Baturité, in cities such as: Pacoti, Guaramiranga, Capistrano, Redenção, Baturité and others. However, according to eyewitness reports, the entrance of the bolide was seen from Fortaleza, also confirmed in an image of Clima ao Vivo. Astronomers believe that there is material on the ground – such as meteorites, which are fragments of the bolide – in regions close to the border between Caucaia and Maranguape.
Residents even reported that a crater, located in the district of Guaiuba, could be indicative of the passage of meteorites. They also reported that a very dark stone was found in the region. However, the Bramon team does not confirm the crater’s relationship as an impact of the meteorite’s passage. They keep looking for images that can help determine the meteor’s mass and path, to calculate its likely dispersion area.
Bramon also sent a request for infrasound data to the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (Cneos – in Portuguese, Center for Studies of Objects Near Earth) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). According to Lauriston, this data is from special microphones, which detect sounds that are not easily perceived by human ears, and can help to indicate the destination of the asteroid, without the need for reports and images.
Currently, astronomers continue to work in the field, collecting reports from witnesses in the main locations where the phenomenon was noticed. In the early days, conflicting information came to hamper the team’s efforts. But, according to the astronomer Lauriston Trindade, who coordinates the action here in Ceará, the testimonies have become more cohesive. And the expectation is that they have news already this weekend.
* Article originally published in O Povo Online, a partner of MAIL by Rede Nordeste