Asteroid Explodes Over Botswana

07 June, 2018, 18:57 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Credit CNN

This was the case of a small asteroid that entered our atmosphere and burst into smaller pieces above Africa.

A small asteroid had been discovered on Saturday and disintegrated over Africa hours later, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Saturday's asteroid was first discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey, located near Tucson and operated by the University of Arizona. Soon the name of the asteroid was declared - 2018 LA.

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.

Just over 13 hours after it was detected, a bright "bolide" fireball was spotted at the end of that line, over the border between Botswana and South Africa.

Scientists discovered the asteroid, called 2018 LA, early Saturday. Tracking systems narrowed it down to southern Africa. "It's also the second time the impact site was predicted long before the event", explained Paul Chodas, the leader of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) owned by NASA.

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At just two metres across, the asteroid was too small to pose a threat to any cities or towns and was expected to safely disintegrate as it entered Earth's atmosphere.

NASA Headquarters' Planetary Defense Officer, Lindley Johnson, said, "The Asteroid was a very small object to identify and notify".

Think again. Humanity has only detected an asteroid on a collision course a handful of times - and only one other of these sightings took place with ample time to spare before it hit us. The asteroid was only discovered by NASA hours before it slammed into Earth. That said, it can never hurt to have more telescopes and eyes pointed at the sky looking for the next space rock aiming to knock on our door - or break it down.

A large Asteroid went undetected in 2013 until the cosmic body collided in the atmosphere. However, the asteroid of 2008 was detected nineteen hours before it struck the sky over Sudan.

The two previous events, over the Sudan in 2008 on October 7, 2008, and over the Atlantic Ocean on January 1, 2014, were also first noticed by the Catalina Sky Survey.

Smaller objects are fainter and more hard to spot in a large sky, though efforts like the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey are increasingly able to search a wider field of sky to find these somewhat elusive objects.

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