Published: Wed, June 06, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Small asteroid, first spotted hours earlier, disintegrates over Africa

Small asteroid, first spotted hours earlier, disintegrates over Africa

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

As per the calculations of the NEO watchers, the Asteroid entered the atmosphere in the region like Papua New Guinea to the Indian Ocean which is nearer to Africa.

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. The officer added, "The modern facilities, capabilities, and the models for impact prediction have potential to predict the impact of larger objects".

Astronomers know of thousands of asteroids whizzing around in space, some of which are known to cross Earth's orbit from time to time. Automated alerts were sent out to the community of asteroid observers to obtain further observations, and to the Planetary Defense Coordination Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

"In this case, the programs that are monitoring for larger and really unsafe bits of rock actually spotted this thing (hours) before it hit the Earth's atmosphere", Dell'Antonio said.

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Experts have determined that the most likely crash site of the facility was the southern part of Africa.

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.

He said: "The advantage I had was I saw it in colour and it was not like on the cameras". These smaller asteroids manage to slip into the atmosphere on occasion, where they're usually spotted as fireballs streaking across the sky. This is only the third time an asteroid was detected before it made impact. However, the CAS clarified that the larger asteroids reflect more sunlight, so usually the medium and large ones can be detected earlier.

Asteroids are small remnants of violent collisions in the solar system's history and formed around 4.5 billion years ago.

The Minor Planetary Centre said 'object no longer exists (in its original form), following its entry into the Earth's atmosphere on 2 June 2018. He adds that the event is also only the second time that a location has been identified with enough time before eventual impact. Space.com reported that 2008 TC3 was spotted some 19 hours before impact while 2008 TC3 was discovered just a few hours prior.

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