Our atmosphere is amazing. Its ability to shield us from outer space invaders, speeding space rocks, and solar radiation? Perfect. It's pretty nice to not have to worry about those things!
Instead of impacting the ground, outer space objects burn up in our atmosphere because of the friction caused by hitting gas particles at extremely high speeds.
For proof of the miraculous power of our atmosphere, you only have to look at what happened to a recent bowling ball-sized meteor. On March 7, it exploded into a fireball! Hitting the atmosphere at 75,000 km/h (47,000 mph), the chunk of rock burst over northern Vermont, creating a scene that could be seen (and heard and felt) for miles around.
Experts at NASA say that the explosion was equivalent to the force of 200 kg (400 lbs.) of TNT. That is not a nice thing to be too near to, which is why it's great that it happened a mile up in the sky. Like we said, thank you, amazing atmosphere!
Normally, this sort of event is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it sort of thing because it happens so quickly. But fortunately, the light show was caught on camera! So sit back and watch this video from CBS Boston of a rock bursting in the sky.