Look up in the sky!
It’s a bird… It’s a plane, it’s Superman!
Uh, it’s none of the above, but merely an asteroid that’s the size of a refrigerator.
Asteroid’s Trajectory Confirmed by NASA’s “Scout” System
The asteroid, named 2022 EB5, was first spotted by Astronomer Krisztian Sarneczsky last Friday (11 Mar) at the Piszkéstető Observatory in Hungary.
When Sarneczky reported the sighting to the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Centre, it was confirmed that it was the first the asteroid had been seen in this galaxy’s orbit.
NASA’s “Scout” system was built to constantly search the Minor Planet Centre’s database for any potential impacts, and it managed to calculate the asteroid’s orbit.
Its findings showed that 2022 EB5 was bound to hit Earth.
The system then notified the Centre for Near Earth Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and other asteroid systems.
The asteroid was predicted to enter the Earth’s atmosphere around Jan Mayen, a Norwegian island approximately 300 miles northeast of Iceland.
However, because it was only 6-and-a-half feet-long (1.98m), it wasn’t deemed as a threat to Earth.
At 5:23pm, two hours after the asteroid was first spotted by Sarneczsky, the asteroid struck the Earth’s atmosphere like “Scout” predicted.
Fifth Asteroid Spotted Before Making Landfall Since 2019
2022 EB5 marks the fifth asteroid that has been spotted in space before it hit the Earth’s atmosphere.
Davide Farnocchia, the navigation engineer who developed Scout, explained that when Scout first identified an object as an impact, it had only made 14 observations over 40 minutes from one observatory.
Back then, it could only determine the possible locations of impact, that extended from western Greenland off to the coast of Norway, which is around 2763 kilometres apart.
Now that the Scout has made more observations and tracked the asteroids, the calculations of the trajectory are becoming more precise.
The International Meteor Organisation declared that no meteorites from the asteroid were recovered, but some people in Iceland reported seeing bright flashes in the sky, which meant that the rock had turned into a fireball.
According to the Director of the Centre for Near Earth Object Studies, Paul Chodas, asteroids similar to 2022 EB5 enter the Earth’s atmosphere once every 10 months, but it’s difficult to perceive one before it has already entered the atmosphere.
Very few asteroids are detected in space and observed comprehensively before they make impact, because they are very faint—and probably too small to see—until the last few hours.
Sometimes, spotting an asteroid is a matter of luck; where the survey telescope happens to observe the right spot of sky at the right time.
For Sarneczky, it was certainly a lucky find.
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