Small Asteroid Hits Earth Hours After Being Spotted By Astronomers

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The asteroid made impact into the earth's atmosphere at about 12:44 p.m. on June 2, at a speed of 38,000 miles per hour over South Africa.

The space rock was only about six feet (1.8 metres) wide by the time it was identified, making it a pretty small threat as far as Earth-bound asteroids go.

"This was a much smaller object than we are tasked to detect and warn about", said Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer at NASA Headquarters.

Also, the scientist says that such examples are illustrative of the work of NASA: "This is a real event allows you to test our capabilities and gives some condence that our models predict collisions suited to respond to the potential impact of larger objects".

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NASA revealed that the boulder-sized asteroid was first detected a mere eight hours before impact by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. The data were in turn sent to the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where the automated Scout system also found a high probability that the asteroid was on an impact trajectory.

It can be seen tumbling towards Earth but although it looks as if it has exploded on impact, experts who were monitoring the asteroid said it burned up entering the atmosphere.

Meteorites probably reached the floor because the asteroid broke apart, Brown stated.

Luckily for us, the asteroid was small, as mentioned above, and burnt up in the atmosphere without causing damages.

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The astroboffins only managed to get a couple of readings on the asteroid's trajectory, and thought it would strike somewhere in southern Africa, the Indian Ocean, or possibly New Guinea.

The Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russian Federation in 2013 is proof of this, shattering windows and injuring more than 1,600 people. 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. However, the CAS clarified that the larger asteroids reflect more sunlight, so usually the medium and large ones can be detected earlier.

In 2008, 13-foot asteroid 2008 TC3 disintegrated over the skies of northern Sudan approximately 19 hours after discovery. The next has been 2014 AA, found only a couple of hours before it changed within the Atlantic Ocean on January 1, 2014. All three of those events were discovered on the watch of astronomer Richard Kowalski at the Catalina Sky Survey.

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