Tuesday, 17 July, 2018


Astroid disintegrates just before hitting Earth

Kristine Garrett | 06 June, 2018, 00:47

About eight hours after these images were taken, the asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere (about 12:44 p.m. EDT, 6:44 p.m. local Botswana time), and disintegrated in the upper atmosphere near Botswana, Africa. NASA says the rock "disintegrated several miles above the surface" over Botswana, Africa, and it created a fireball that lit up the night sky.

The Planetary Defense team are tasked with tracking and warning of asteroids that pose a threat to planet Earth. The smaller an asteroid is, the less light it reflects, and thus the dimmer it appears.

Infrasound data collected just after the impact clearly detected the event from one of the listening stations deployed as part of the International Monitoring System of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

'However, this real-world event allows us to exercise our capabilities and gives some confidence our impact prediction models are adequate to respond to the potential impact of a larger object'.

The space rock, dubbed 2018 LA, was first identified by scientists with the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey, organized by the University of Arizona, on Saturday morning.

He said: 'The advantage I had was I saw it in colour and it was not like on the cameras. Thus, the asteroid has to come fairly close to Earth before it can be detected.

When it was first detected, the asteroid was almost as far away as the Moon's orbit, although that was not initially known.

Fortunately, even though it is harder to find asteroids this small, ones of this size are also too small to cause any noticeable damage to anything or anyone on the ground.

One such larger object was the asteroid that went completely undetected until it collided with the atmosphere over Russian Federation in 2013, creating a shock wave that blew out thousands of windows in the town of Chelyabinsk ans caused a number of injuries. The asteroid hit Earth's atmosphere over the southern African nation of Botswana at 12:44 p.m. EDT (1644 GMT) while hurtling down at a whopping 38,000 miles per hour (61,155 km/h).

There have been only two other times when asteroids were detected so soon before impact.

"The discovery of asteroid 2018 LA is only the third time that an asteroid has been discovered to be on an impact trajectory", said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at JPL.

In 2008, an asteroid measuring 4 metres was spotted 19 hours in advance.

A 2014 asteroid was discovered by Kowalski just a few hours before entering over the Atlantic, with little time for tracking.

Catalina Sky Survey astronomers reported the asteroid finding to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which managed to calculate a preliminary trajectory for the asteroid.

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