Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Asteroid on Collision Course with Earth Breaks Into Pieces Before Impact

Small asteroid first spotted hours earlier disintegrates over Africa Small asteroid Small asteroid first spotted hours earlier disintegrates over Africa Small asteroid
Sandy Nunez | 07 June, 2018, 18:58

A small asteroid about the size of a boulder slammed into Earth's atmosphere Saturday (June 2), incinerating itself in a brilliant fireball caught on video.

Scientists determined the asteroid was headed directly for Earth, but because it measured just 6 feet across, scientists knew it would quickly disintegrate in Earth's atmosphere.

Detecting asteroids as small as 2018 LA is very hard.

Four images of asteroid 2018 LA, captured by Catalina Sky Survey telescopes on June 2, 2018.

The video below, posted on YouTube by Barend Swanepoel, shows footage of the asteroid coming down between Ottosdal and Hartebeesfontein in South Africa.

One such asteroid, named 2018 LA, managed to skirt all previous detection until it was finally spotted early Saturday morning, just hours before it would collide with our planet.

Paul Chodas, the Manager of NASA's CNEOS (Center for Near-Earth Object Studies), stated it is the 2nd time the prediction of collision location was precise.

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The last predicted impact was asteroid 2014 AA, and it too was discovered only hours before it entered the atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean on New Year's Day in 2014, NASA said.

An official, Lindley Johnson at the NASA's Planetary Defense team, said in a statement, "This was a much smaller object than we are tasked to detect and warn about".

With more telescopes pointed at the asteroid, it became apparent that there may be an impact, Brown said.

It is only the third time scientists have spotted an incoming asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth. According to NASA, the rock disintegrated over Southern Africa.

Fortunately, NASA didn't have to rely on Bruce Willis or Ben Affleck to blow up this asteroid before it entered the earth's atmosphere, but it still looked arguably more unsafe than Dottie, the Texas-sized asteroid in Armageddon. Thus, the asteroid has to come fairly close to Earth before it can be detected. The first was 2008 TC3, which was detected 15 hours before it broke up over northern Sudan on October 7, 2008. The six feet (two meters) broad asteroid was discovered a few hours prior to reaching the Earth. For all three objects, the observer on watch was Richard Kowalski, a senior research specialist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona.

The second event occurred January 1, 2014, when the asteroid 2014 AA was spotted just a few hours before it fell over the Atlantic Ocean.