Show Details

Fireball Sounds

August 23, 2018

Seismologists track a fireball by its sound.



Listening to an exploding meteor. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In early 2018, thousands of people witnessed an exploding meteor, or bolide, streaking over Michigan. Scripps geophysicist Michael Hedlin says many such meteors visit Earth each year, but few happen to occur so close to so many advanced seismological instruments– including infrasonic microphones that recorded its roar:

[exploding meteor sound]

MICHAEL HEDLIN (Scripps Institution of Oceanography):

We could really see sound waves from this bolide over the United States to a distance of over a thousand kilometers.


In the journal Seismological Research Letters, Hedlin and his colleagues describe how the event let them compare and fine-tune satellite data, ground-based images and seismic data. ┬áThat will help them detect future meteors, and also monitor earth-based threats, like earthquakes and nuclear weapons tests. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon