Scientists spot small asteroid hours before collision with Earth

Credit CNN

It is the third occasion wherein the Asteroid was recorded to impact on the Earth's atmosphere.

This asteroid, dubbed as Asteroid 2018 LA or ZLAF9B2, was only 6 feet (2 meters) in size and it was initially observed from the Catalina Sky Survey, in Arizona, in the United States.

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

Given the name 2018 LA, it was first spotted by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona on June 2 in the U.S. at which point the asteroid was as close to Earth as the moon, astronomers said. About eight hours after these images were taken, the asteroid entered Earth's atmosphereand disintegrated in the upper atmosphere near Botswana, Africa.

NASA calculated that the asteroid was traveling at a considerable speed of 27,738 miles per hour (44,640 km / h). Here's how to know for sure!

Asteroids are small remnants of violent collisions in the solar system's history and formed around 4.5 billion years ago. That trajectory plot was the first hint that 2018 LA could hit Earth.

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Video posted on YouTube, from a farm just across the border in South Africa, showed a fireball swiftly descending and getting bigger, and then a blinding flash in the sky.

Footage of the asteroid's demise was later shared online by South Africans Barend Swanepoel and Melissa Delport. 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.

But smaller asteroids which could wipe out a city might only be detected hours or days before they smash into our planet. This is because asteroid detection depends on telescopes picking up sunlight reflected off the asteroid's surface.

Rarely these smaller space rocks can cause issues, such as was the case in Russian Federation a few years back, but they typically land in the ocean or in rural regions.

An asteroid four times as big exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013 in an airburst blowing out windows and injuring over 1,500 people with cuts caused by flying glass and debris. The name that is going to stick is asteroid 2018 LA. Expert Geoff Notkin tells us how! Only two other instances come to mind, according to JPL.

The asteroid was designated 2018 LA. He adds that the event is also only the second time that a location has been identified with enough time before eventual impact. The first was 2008 TC3, which was detected 15 hours before it broke up over northern Sudan on October 7, 2008.

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