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Booming fireball spotted in the skies above 3 states this week, NASA says

By Ashley Williams
An image of the streaking meteorite (in purple) is seen on Wednesday from a NOAA satellite about 22,000 miles above the Earth. Image courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
An image of the streaking meteorite (in purple) is seen on Wednesday from a NOAA satellite about 22,000 miles above the Earth. Image courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

April 29 (UPI) -- A loud boom and a fireball streaking across the sky. That's the sight that dozens of people across three states saw this week, scientists said.

The startling fireball was spotted on Wednesday morning by people in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. NASA says the streaking object was a "bolide" -- or a bright meteorite.

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The meteor was seen by more than 30 people, some of whom also reported loud booms from the galactic object.

Satellites belonging to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration observed the fiery meteor and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency posted the image on its Facebook page.

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Officials said the meteor was spotted about 54 miles above the Mississippi River near the town of Alcorn.

NASA scientists said the bolide was a 90-pound asteroid chunk 1 foot in diameter.

The object, which was said to be over 10 times brighter than the full moon at its peak, ultimately fell apart over the swamps of Louisiana.

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Officials said that most people heard the meteor as it broke the sound barrier and produced what are known as "sonic booms."

"What struck me as unusual was how few eyewitness reports we had given the skies were so clear," Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, said in a statement. "More people heard it than saw it."

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Scientists said the sounds and vibrations came from the energy the fireball produced -- equal to 3 tons of TNT -- which sent shockwaves toward the ground.

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