Scientists spot small asteroid hours before collision with Earth

Scientists spot small asteroid hours before collision with Earth

Although its trajectory put the space rock on a path for impact, it was estimated to be about 6 feet wide and expected to disintegrate upon impact with the Earth's atmosphere.

Scientists discovered the asteroid, called 2018 LA, early Saturday.

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

According to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 2018 LA was travelling at 10 miles per second upon entry, or 38,000 miles per hour.

He later checked his CCTV and said: 'One of the small cameras monitoring the barn with feed for his animals caught the footage that you saw on social media. The asteroid of 2014 was detected only some hours before it entered the Earth above the Atlantic and just a little time was available for tracking it.

Just over 13 hours after it was detected, a bright "bolide" fireball was spotted at the end of that line, over the border between Botswana and South Africa.

Astronomers involved in sky survey were looking for Near Earth Objects that mostly include asteroids which may harm our Earth if hit on main areas as happened in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013 that heavily damaged the buildings and caused injury to thousand of people.

Trajectory path of ZLAF9B2 (2018 LA) plotted across Oceania, the Indian Ocean and Africa. Most are found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but sometimes some could get jostled from the orbit, posing a danger to Earth.

But in a nice bit of detective work, two additional observations were obtained by the ATLAS asteroid survey that were used by the Scout system to narrow down the predicted impact points in southern Africa. Space.com reported that 2008 TC3 was spotted some 19 hours before impact while 2008 TC3 was discovered just a few hours prior.

In addition, the Manager of the Centre for research of Ground objects Floor khodas explained that it was only the third time in history when it was possible to track the trajectory and a high probability of an asteroid collision long before the event itself. The blazing fireball sent meteorite hunters scrambling to find fragments of the rare space rock.

An asteroid exploded in the sky over Africa this past weekend, but scientists say it's not an unusual occurrence. The second was 2014 AA, discovered only a few hours before it impacted over the Atlantic Ocean on January 1, 2014.

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