Various media sources are reporting that a meteorite struck Nicaragua over the weekend, and that it’s associated with house-sized asteroid 2014RC that made a close flyby of Earth on Sunday (brushing rather near the geosynchronous ring, but otherwise passing quite uneventfully), producing this crater:
But was it?
There are reports of a loud bang, but no eyewitness reports of a flash or contrail, and anything large enough to leave a dent like this ought to have a tremendous trail and produce a sizable sonic boom. Weather radar could have picked it up, and as this impact occurred relatively near a major airport, the airport’s radar should have seen something as well. And it can’t have been part of 2014 RC; if it struck Nicaragua at the claimed time, it would have to have been coming from a different direction. (That’s not to say asteroids can’t have little buddies tagging along. They absolutely can. But this isn’t one of them.)
And experts are divided on the pit as well; some say it looks exactly right for a meteorite’s crater, and others are saying it looks excavated mechanically. For all we know, the crater’s been there for months and just wasn’t noticed until folks went looking for something. Or maybe it will turn out to be legit; we’ll have to wait and see. The real tell-tale will be if fragments are discovered. Actual meteorites should be present if this is real, and would be worth a fortune. (Meteorite hunters often pay a premium for known provenance; Chelyabinsk meteorite fragments are going for a pretty penny.) Until then, I am going to withhold judgement and remain skeptical. If it’s a meteorite crater, that’s awesome, and more study needs to be done of it! If it’s not, well, we all screw up at some point. And like the Nicaraguan authorities said, the important thing is that nobody got hurt.