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Asteroid Detected Less Than Two Hours Before Entering Earth’s Atmosphere! Wait, What?

An asteroid likely measuring around 10 feet wide entered our atmosphere last Friday and astronomers only realized what was happening less than two hours before impact. There are two ways of looking at this. First, the fact that it was detected in the first place is impressive, seen as how it was relatively small.
Asteroid spotted less than two hours before entering Earth's atmosphere 6 photos
Asteroid spotted less than two hours before entering Earth's atmosphereAsteroid spotted less than two hours before entering Earth's atmosphereAsteroid spotted less than two hours before entering Earth's atmosphereAsteroid spotted less than two hours before entering Earth's atmosphereAsteroid spotted less than two hours before entering Earth's atmosphere
However, it’s hard to rest on our laurels when knowing that space rocks can pummel our planet at any time, and all we get is just a couple of hours’ notice. This time, the asteroid burned up in the skies above Iceland and nobody was the wiser.

Credited with this discovery is astronomer Krisztian Sarneczky, who spotted the bright and fast-moving object in the sky using a 60 cm (23.3-inch) Schmidt telescope at the Piszkesteto observatory in Hungary, as reported by Gizmodo.

His initial observation took place at 7:24 pm UTC (3:24 pm EST) on March 11, 2022, followed by three other observations before a report could be sent to the Minor Planet Center. About an hour later, the European Space Agency’s ‘Meerkat’ monitoring system triggered an alert to the Near-Earth Object Coordination Center (NEOCC), and at that point, the cat was out of the bag and impact probability was 100%.

But again, this particular space rock was rather small, thankfully, which ironically is part of the problem, because the smaller they are, the harder they are to detect. Objects this small don’t usually survive entry through our atmosphere, and we’re seeing roughly 10 asteroids of this size “arriving” at Earth every year.

In the end, no footage exists of the moment the asteroid burned up on entry, but according to the data, its demise took place about 87 miles (140 km) south of Jan Mayen, at Arctic island located 1,190 miles (1,910 km) northeast of Iceland.

“Signals from the impact were detected from Iceland and Greenland, suggesting an energy release equivalent to 2 to 3 [kilotons] of TNT,” as per the NEOCC.

 
 
 
 
 

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