Small asteroid spotted Saturday, disintegrates over Africa

Mindy Sparks
June 6, 2018

An asteroid hit Earth's atmosphere this weekend just hours after NASA spotted it - blazing across the skies above Africa on Saturday night.

Given the name 2018 LA, it was first spotted by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona on June 2 in the United States at which point the asteroid was as close to Earth as the moon, astronomers said.

Asteroid trackers at Nasa and elsewhere quickly determined the rock - about 6ft across - was too small to pose any danger.

Most of it did burn up, however, scientists think it may have produced meteorites along its path as it descended, with a larger piece believed to have landed near Namibia or Botswana.

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 risky than Dottie, the Texas-sized asteroid in Armageddon.

It's only the third time scientists have spotted an incoming asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth. "It's not that unusual".

However, the situation about 2018 LA were uncommon for two reasons. The disintegration of the cosmic boulder lightened up the African skies.

Eight hours later, it broke up harmlessly after entering the Earth's atmosphere over Africa.

A small chunk of an asteroid or comet is also known as a meteoroid.

NEO watchers calculated that asteroid 2018 LA would enter the atmosphere somewhere over a corridor extending from Africa across the Indian Ocean to Papua New Guinea. The space agency is focused on saving lives and property by predicting where an asteroid will strike.

Early that evening, at 16:44 UTC, witnesses reported a brilliant fireball above Botswana, Africa, that matched up with the predicted trajectory. It had been seized on webcams from the region since it lit up the skies.

Detecting asteroids as small as 2018 LA is very hard. The second predicted impact event was for asteroid 2014 AA, which was discovered only a few hours before impact on January 1, 2014, in the Atlantic Ocean, leaving too little time for follow-up observations.

The asteroid, dubbed 2018 LA, was discovered out near the moon's orbit, aiming straight for Earth.

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/CSS-Univ. of Arizona: Observations of asteroid 2018 LA from the Catalina Sky Survey, taken June 2, 2018.

And While 2018 LA was detected soon before it came at our setting, there are various organizations looking for potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) which may seriously affect life. According to Johnson, the asteroid was less than those of the heavenly bodies, which the Division is expected to detect.

"It is really hard to do", explained Brown.

The advantage I had was I saw it in colour.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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