Meteor hitting PH possible but rare - Pagasa

by Evelyn Macairan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 17 2013 01:15 PM | Updated as of Feb 17 2013 09:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) yesterday said an exploding meteor hitting the country was possible but it was a rare phenomenon and there are safeguards to alert the people in the event it happens.

Renato de Leon, PAGASA-Astronomy Division weather specialist, said the meteor that hit Russia on Friday did not crash on Earth and it exploded even before reaching the ground.

“There was no crater and there were no meteorites found. The injuries were primarily caused by the explosion’s shockwave. It was the shockwave that shattered the windows and injured the people,” De Leon said.

He said the meteor created friction as it was plummeting “and as a result of the heat, it vaporized and exploded while in space.”

De Leon said the public should not fear that the Philippines would have a similar experience because it rarely occurs.

“And if it does happen, oftentimes it lands in a remote place and not in populated area. It would also depend if the celestial object would make a full impact or disintegrate while in outer space,” he said.

He said that while the Philippines does not have the technology to track down a meteor that would be landing in the country, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has 90 percent capability to monitor a Near Earth Object (NEO) such as meteors, provided that it is a kilometer in diameter.

In the case of the meteor that hit Russia, it only measured 50 feet in width, almost the size of a bus.

De Leon said it was only a coincidence that the meteor struck as asteroid 2012 DA-14 passed by Earth.

“The asteroid moved in a south to north direction, while the meteor moved from north to south. Besides, the meteor explosion happened a day before the asteroid came, which was early Saturday morning,” he added.