Mission: Police chief provides update on meteorite incident
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A fireball spotted in the skies over the city of Mission, Texas, on Wednesday — causing loud banks and shaking homes — was a 1,000lb meteor, NASA experts confirmed yesterday. The passage of the space rock, believed to be around two feet in diameter, instigated a flurry of calls to the authorities just before 5.30pm CST, said local police chief Cesar Torres. And the American Meteor Society received multiple reports of “fireball” sightings — two from near Mission, two from San Antonio to the north and another from nearby Uvalde.
Yesterday, officials in the Rio Grande Valley — the southernmost part of Texas — held a press conference to update the public on the incident, which is not believed to have caused any damage.
Alton police chief Jonathan Flores said that the blast was felt in his jurisdiction, although at the time the cause was a mystery.
He added: “I do know that it was widespread. There [were] multiple cities receiving the same call.”
Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra noted that Houston Air Traffic Control had received two reports from aircraft of meteor sightings west of the city of McAllen.
A NASA spokesperson said: “Based on analysis of preliminary information from several sources, NASA experts believe the object was a meteoroid about two feet in diameter weighing about 1,000 lbs
“The angle and speed of entry, along with signatures in weather radar imagery, are consistent with other naturally occurring meteorite falls.
“Although meteorites tend to hit Earth’s atmosphere at high speeds, they slow as they travel through the atmosphere, breaking into small fragments before hitting the ground.
However, they added, “radar and other data indicate that meteorites did reach the ground from this event. Meteorites cool rapidly and generally are not a risk to the public.”
According to Sheriff Guerra, the point of impact of the meteorites has not been determined.
NASA encouraged local individuals who believe they may have found a meteorite to contact the Smithsonian Institution, which maintains collections of space rocks found in the US.
They said: “When samples such as the remnants of this event are collected and studied they enhance our understanding of the origin and evolution of our solar system and our natural space debris environment.”
NASA concluded: “The meteor seen in the skies above McAllen is a reminder of the need for NASA and other organisations to increase our understanding and protection of Earth.”
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The meteor sighting came just days after a small asteroid exploded over the English channel, near Normandy.
The light show from the shooting star’s “airburst” was visible across most of southern England and Wales — and even as far south as Paris, France.
The incident was rare, experts said, in that the asteroid disintegrated in sight of populated areas with advance warning, allowing significant data collection.
Designated “Sar2667” and then “2023 CX₁” by astronomers, the rock is estimated to have been around 3.3 feet in size — just above the lower limit for classification as an asteroid.
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