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PARIS (AFP) – Stunned astronomers watched a car-sized asteroid explode into a brilliant meteor shower as it crashed into Earth's atmosphere, and then wandered into a Sudan desert to pick up the pieces, a study released Wednesday reported.
It was the first time ever that scientists recovered fragments from an asteroid detected in space, according to the study, published in the British journal Nature
A small asteroid discovered earlier October 6 entered Earth's atmosphere later that night. Friction with the air caused the object to explode with roughly a kiloton of energy, creating a spectacular fireball as it disintegrated. The object, designated 2008 TC3, was only 3 to 15 feet (1 to 5 meters) across and posed no threat to reach Earth's surface or the altitude of airplanes.