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NASA: Indonesian air blast probably an asteroid

NASA officials are saying Wednesday that the blast reported in the atmosphere over an Indonesian island on Oct. 8 was probably a small asteroid - about 10 meters in diameter - that detonated in the atmosphere. The force of the blast has been estimated at 50 kilotons - the equivalent of 100,000 tons of TNT.

There is You Tube video of the aftermath of the event. It shows what is described as a smoke trail left behind by the space rock's entry into the atmosphere, and some panic among the people on the ground.

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Don Yeomans and other scientists with NASA's Near Earth Object program say the detonation was detected by sensors around the world - devices set up to detect low-frequency sound waves generated by atmospheric nuclear weapons testing.

"Assuming an estimated size of about 5-10 meters in diameter, we would expect a fireball event of this magnitude about once every 2 to 12 years on average. As a rule, the most common types of stony asteroids would not be expected to cause ground damage unless their diameters were about 25 meters in diameter or larger," they said.

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The real question is why the Near Earth Object searches never spotted this object as it headed for our planet.

Scientists are now tracking more than a thousand potentially threatening near-Earth asteroids. One of them passed the Earth on Oct. 17, skidding by inside the moon's orbit - less than 240,000 miles from the planet. It's size? About 35 kilometers in diameter.

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