NASA Scientist: Meteor Sighted Over Oklahoma Bigger Than Previously Thought

Friday, January 14th 2011, 5:30 pm
By: News On 6

LEFLORE COUNTY, Oklahoma -- A NASA scientist says the fireball that lit up the Oklahoma sky Tuesday night was in fact a meteor.  He also says it was bigger than previously thought.

1/14/2011: Related story: Meteor Streaks Across Southeastern Oklahoma Sky Late Tuesday

Bill Cooke is an astronomer with the Meteoroid Environment Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama who writes a blog on the center's home page.

In an entry Friday afternoon, Cooke says he used information gathered by the Elginfield Infrasound Array (ELFO) in Canada to track the meteor's path and to estimate its key characteristics.  The array records very low frequency sound waves in order to track meteors.

Cooke says based on the information gathered by ELFO, the meteor was 21 inches in diameter and weighed 376 pounds. 

Cooke believes the meteor was traveling more than 33,000 miles per hour. 

So far he hasn't found video of the actual meteor, but has told other web sites he believes the meteor exploded with a force of 40 to 80 tons of TNT.  He says the evidence suggests a large "fall zone" for debris in the area of Jackson, Mississippi.