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NASA releases photo of meteor blazing across Nevada skies

Lisa Warren / NASA-JPL via AP

An image provided by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows a meteor over Reno, Nevada on April 22, 2012.

NASA has released a photograph of a flaming meteor that unleashed a powerful sonic boom Sunday morning, rattling houses in California and Nevada when its disintegration released energy equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion.

The former space rock entered Earth's atmosphere around 8 a.m. PT on April 22 and exploded over California's Central Valley, according to NASA, which pinpointed the location in a map posted on its website.

According to space.com, several witnesses initially thought they had experienced an earthquake.

"An event of this size might happen about once a year," said Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office. "But most of them occur over the ocean or an uninhabited area, so getting to see one is something special."

Sergei Remezov / Reuters

The Month in Space: Take a look at zero-gravity antics, rocket launches, planetary views and other spaced-out pictures from March 2012.

NASA space photographs exhibit at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. KNBC-TV's Cary Berglund reports.