Asteroid headed straight for Earth burns up in sky

In one video, from a farm between Ottosdal and Hartebeesfontein in northwest South Africa, the asteroid appears as a brilliant streak that flares up into a spectacular fireball on the horizon.

An artist's concept of a near-Earth object, as shared by NASA.

YouTubeNasa's Near Earth Object Centre said that Asteroid 2018 LA was travelling at 27, 738 miles per hour.

Astronomers with the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson first discovered the asteroid.

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

It is the third-time scientists have spotted an incoming asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth.

'However, this real-world event allows us to exercise our capabilities and gives some confidence our impact prediction models are adequate to respond to the potential impact of a larger object'. The initial observations by the Catalina telescope allowed the space agency to calculate a number of possible impact locations stretching from Southern Africa to the Indian Ocean and New Guinea.

The camera, which Swanepoel said faces to the NW, captured the entry of the asteroid at 6:49 p.m. local time, and according to the Minor Planet Center, it exploded at an altitude of around 50 kilometres above the ground.

NASA scans the skies regularly for asteroids and comets that could be a threat to life on Earth.

Because astronomers spotted the space rock when it was so close to our planet, they couldn't say exactly where it would impact.

An asteroid four times as big exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013 in an airburst blowing out windows injuring more than 1,500 people mainly due to cuts caused by flying glass and debris.

While there is a good chance of finding meteorites on the ground from the impact of 2018 LA, any fragments of the asteroid that made it to the surface would have been slowed considerably by their interaction with the atmosphere. Expert Geoff Notkin tells us how!

Post-impact assessments supports the evidence the asteroid struck the skies above Botswana, NASA reported. Only two other instances come to mind, according to JPL.

The space rock, dubbed 2018 LA, was first identified by scientists with the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey, organized by the University of Arizona, on Saturday morning.

'It is also only the second time that the high probability of an impact was predicted well ahead of the event itself'.

On Oct. 7,2008, the 13-foot (4 m) asteroid 2008 TC3 hit Earthover northern Sudan. That asteroid was spotted 19 hours before impact, enough time for scientists to plot a precise trajectory for the falling space rock.

Additional observations by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) located in Hawaii, which tracked down 2018 LA a few hours before it slammed into our atmosphere, confirmed that the asteroid was on a collision trajectory and narrowed down the place of impact to southern Africa.

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