Earth-buzzing asteroid may have dropped meteorite on Nicaragua

Daredevil asteroid 2014 RC slid by close to Earth Sunday, but it may have left a parting gift in the form of a meteorite crater in Nicaragua.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

Nicaragua crater
This crater appeared over the weekend after a big boom. Nicaraguan Army

A big boom was heard in Nicaragua's capital of Managua during the night this past weekend. Officials traced the startling sound to a crater near the city's airport and concluded that the hole in the ground was caused by a meteorite coming in for a landing. The crater has a radius of 39 feet and is 16 feet deep, though no injuries or structural damage were reported.

The Nicaraguan government formed a committee to investigate the crater, which is all the more mysterious considering there haven't been any reports yet of people seeing a streak of light. The government is asking for international assistance for the investigation and is looking to see if any remnants of a meteorite can be found. Experts on the team have suggested the meteorite could have come from 2014 RC, an asteroid that passed very close to Earth on Sunday.

Asteroid 2014 RC was discovered at the end of August and NASA quickly determined the 60-foot chunk of space rock would pass safely by Earth, reaching a closest distance of about 25,000 miles out. The asteroid's path will bring it back by Earth in the future, though NASA doesn't think it will cause problems.

The origin of the crater in Nicaragua is still very much a matter of speculation right now. There is precedence for unexpected meteorite landings, notably the February 2013 incident involving a meteor exploding over Russia, causing considerable damage and injuries.

After further investigation of the crater near Managua, scientists may determine it was a meteorite that had nothing to do with 2014 RC. Another possibility is that the mysterious crater has a completely different origin, even something man-made.

The Nicaraguan Army released a photo of the crater, which appears to have pushed a few trees over, though other trees around the site are intact. A government spokesperson described the potential meteorite as "relatively small." Even a relatively small chunk of space debris can make a serious impact on Earth.

(Via AP)