that asteroid The size of a refrigerator that was recently smashed a landThe atmosphere just hours after it was discovered by astronomers. It is the fifth time that researchers have observed one of these cosmic rocks before they hit us.
The asteroid, called 2022 EB5, was first discovered by Krisztián Sárneczky, an astronomer at Piszkéstető Mountain Station, part of Hungary’s Konkulli Observatory, on March 11. Through, it slammed into Earth’s atmosphere at an estimated speed of about 39,600 mph (63,700 km/h) and likely exploded, according to EarthSky. Judging by its speed, the rock was about a third of the distance between the Earth and the Moon when it was spotted.
After the asteroid was discovered, NASA’s “Scout” collision risk assessment system began tracking space rocks. When it became clear that the asteroid would collide with Earth, Scout automatically alerted the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. The CNEOS team predicted exactly where and when the asteroid would hit, According to a statement from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“We were able to identify potential impact sites, which initially stretched from western Greenland to off the coast of Norway,” David Farnokia, a navigation engineer at JPL who helped develop the Scouts, said in the statement. “As more observatories track the asteroid, our calculations of its path and impact site are becoming more accurate.”
The asteroid hit Earth’s atmosphere over Jan Mayen, an uninhabited volcanic island about 310 miles (500 km) east of green land and about 370 miles (595 km) northeast of Iceland, around 10:23 p.m. local time, just as expected, according to the statement.
Witnesses in Iceland and Greenland reported seeing a bright light in the sky and hearing a loud noise, according to New York Post. Experts believe they most likely noticed the asteroid when it became a fireball meteorAccording to EarthSky.
A fireball meteor is a type of extremely bright meteor that emits as light or more than that of Venus in the night sky, according to American Meteorological Society (AMS). This is due to the friction between the meteorite and the Earth’s atmosphere, which causes the rocks to heat up and release energy in the form of light. If a fireball meteor also explodes, it’s called a bolide, and it can also create a sonic boom, according to AMS.
Although our planet is frequently hit by asteroids, 2022 EB5 is the fifth asteroid discovered by astronomers before it collided with Earth; The first-ever Earth impactor was observed in 2008.
“Small asteroids like 2022 EB5 are numerous, and they impact the atmosphere frequently — roughly every 10 months or so,” Paul Chodas, director of CNEOS, said in the statement. “But very few of these asteroids have been detected in space and observed extensively before the collision, mainly because they were so faint until the last few hours.” Even then, he added, the scanning telescope would have to focus on only the right part of the sky in time to be detected.
However, we can rest assured that any larger asteroids with a dangerous impact will be spotted and tracked much sooner, similar to how the apocalyptic asteroid was spotted in the 2021 movie Don’t Look For. However, the arrival of 2022 EB5 provided a unique opportunity for the planetary defense community to test its capabilities and showed that we are well-equipped to accurately track asteroid tracks, according to the statement.
Originally published on Live Science.
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