The crater is 39 feet wide and 15 feet deep and appeared out of nowhere the evening of September 6th. Some residents of Managua, Nicaragua, reported hearing a loud boom and detected a strong burning smell that evening. Sounds like a standard meteorite impact, especially with an asteroid making a near-Earth flyby the following day, right? Not so fast, simple answer lovers!
Many experts and non-experts alike are questioning the Nicaraguan government’s report that this crater in a wooded area near the Sandino International Airport and about 1,000 feet from the Camino Real Hotel was created by a small meteorite. Why?
Let’s start with the fact that Managua is a city of 1.5 million people and the crater is near an international airport and a major hotel … yet no one reported seeing saw a fireball. Here’s what Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, had to say.
For something to produce a hole in the ground that big, it would have generated a very bright fireball. And nothing was reported ... despite the population. So I'm very skeptical.
NASA estimated a blast of roughly the energy equivalent of 1 ton of TNT would be needed to create a crater that size. Nicaraguan officials tried to tie the event to the Pitbull asteroid 2014 RC, which flew by the Earth approximately 12 hours later, but NASA officials said it was unrelated.
Different timing, different directions.
Which brings up the next fact: there’s no scorch or burn marks in the crater, nor are there any metal or meteorite debris fragments in the hole. Humberto Saballos, a volcanologist with the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies, speculated that a meteorite could have exploded in the air and produced a shock wave that made the crater, but there should have been a fireball. The crater is also near a Nicaraguan air force base but there were no reports of bombs or ordinance blasts.
Of course, the site is currently being guarded by the military while investigations into the cause continue.
So what DID made this crater in Managua?