Tiny Asteroid Discovered Saturday Disintegrates Hours Later Over Southern Africa

Asteroid 2018 LA
These are the discovery observations of asteroid 2018 LA from the Catalina Sky Survey, taken June 2, 2018. About eight hours after these images were taken, the asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere (about 9:44 a.m. PDT, 12:44 p.m. EDT, 16:44 UTC, 6:44 p.m. local Botswana time), and disintegrated in the upper atmosphere near Botswana, Africa.Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CSS-Univ. of Arizona

Full image and caption

A boulder-sized asteroid designated 2018 LA was discovered Saturday morning, June 2, and was determined to be on a collision course with Earth, with impact just hours away. Because it was very faint, the asteroid was estimated to be only about 6 feet (2 meters) across, which is small enough that it was expected to safely disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere. Saturday’s asteroid was first discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey, located near Tucson and operated by the University of Arizona.

The Asteroid is located here.

Although there was not enough tracking data to make precise predictions ahead of time, a swath of possible locations was calculated stretching from Southern Africa, across the Indian Ocean, and onto New Guinea. Reports of a bright fireball above Botswana, Africa, early Saturday evening match up with the predicted trajectory for the asteroid. The asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere at the high speed of 10 miles per second (38,000 mph, or 17 kilometers per second) at about 16:44 UTC (9:44 a.m. PDT, 12:44 p.m. EDT,6:44 p.m. local Botswana time) and disintegrated several miles above the surface, creating a bright fireball that lit up the evening sky. The event was witnessed by a number of observers and was caught on webcam video.


When it was first detected, the asteroid was nearly as far away as the Moon’s orbit, although that was not initially known. The asteroid appeared as a streak in the series of time-exposure images taken by the Catalina telescope . As is the case for all asteroid-hunting projects, the data were quickly sent to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which calculated a preliminary trajectory indicating the possibility of an Earth impact. 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. Automated alerts were sent out to the community of asteroid observers to obtain further observations, and to the Planetary Defense Coordination Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington. However, since the asteroid was determined to be so small and therefore harmless, no further impact alerts were issued by NASA.

“This was a much smaller object than we are tasked to detect and warn about,” said Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer at NASA Headquarters. “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 ATLAS asteroid survey obtained two additional observations hours before impact, which were used by Scout to confirm the impact would occur, and narrowed down the predicted location to southern Africa. Infrasound data collected just after the impact clearly detected the event from one of the listening stations deployed as part of the International Monitoring System of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The signal is consistent with an atmospheric impact over Botswana.

“The discovery of asteroid 2018 LA is only the third time that an asteroid has been discovered to be on an impact trajectory, said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at JPL. “It is also only the second time that the high probability of an impact was predicted well ahead of the event itself.”

The first event of this kind was the impact of asteroid 2008 TC3, which lit up the predawn sky above Northern Sudan on October 7, 2008. That was a slightly larger asteroid (about 13 feet, or 4 meters in size), and it was discovered a full 19 hours before impact, allowing for a large number of follow-up observations and a very precise trajectory to be calculated. The second predicted impact event was for asteroid 2014 AA, which was discovered only a few hours before impact on Jan. 1, 2014, in the Atlantic Ocean, leaving too little time for follow-up observations. The Catalina Sky Survey has been responsible for discovering all three of these small asteroids on impact trajectories, and all on the watch of the same observer, Richard Kowalski.

NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office is responsible for finding, tracking and characterizing potentially hazardous asteroids and comets coming near Earth, issuing warnings about possible impacts, and assisting coordination of U.S. government response planning, should there be an actual impact threat. JPL hosts the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies for NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program, an element of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office within the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

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Asteroid Oumuamua reveals new secrets about the Universe

The celestial body – named Oumuamua – was scanned for radio signals after its shape led researchers to consider the possibility it could be an alien starship.But an international team of researchers from the French National Research Council, the University of Bordeaux and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre say initial data suggests its definitely not an alien object. Astronomers from the University of Hawaii first spotted Oumuamua – named after the Hawaiian term for “scout” or “messenger” – on October 19, 2017, passing the Earth at about 85 times the distance to the moon.
It was the first object discovered in the solar system that appears to have originated from another part of the galaxy.
French researchers, led by Sean Raymond, believe its bizarre cigar shape could be due to its origins because Oumuamua would have originally been a comet in formation.
Mr Raymond suggests that Oumuamua could be one of those primordial celestial objects that are created by aggregation of grains of dust around young stars. He explains that during the process of formation of asteroids, comets and planets, use the gravitational force of a gas giant similar to Jupiter, which would have crushed it and finally expelled it from the planetary system. Hence its long and thin shape.
Reseacher, Maria Cristina De Sanctis, of the National Institute of Astrophysics said it is probable that Oumuamua was originally from the comet family and not an asteroid.

She said: “The fact that it does not have the typical comet’s hair does not mean anything because if it passed near a star it could have run out of the ice that covered it and that’s the reason for the comet’s bright hair.

Asteroid OumuamuaPA/NASA

Travelling at up to 196,000 mph, the object travelled at high speed

“It was expected to be an object similar to a comet, but when Oumuamua arrived in the Solar System, researchers realised that it did not emit dust or ice and therefore it was not a comet, but an asteroid”.

Although thought to be an asteroid, Oumuamua’s elongated cigar shape hundreds of metres in length but only one tenth as wide is highly unusual for a typical space rock.Travelling at up to 196,000 mph, the object’s high speed also suggests that it is not gravitationally bound to the sun but is destined to head back out of the solar system.

However, its arrival could provide experts with new and valuable information on how planets, asteroids and comets are born. Meanwhile, the mysterious object was also studied by the Seti project Breakthrough Listen, last year.


Amateur astronomer take photographs of Supernova

On Sept. 20, 2016, Victor Buso, an amateur astronomer in Rosario, Argentina, was checking out the new camera on his telescope by taking pictures of a nearby spiral galaxy when a star within it went off in a supernova explosion.

Within hours, and prompted by Mr. Buso’s good fortune, professional astronomers around the world trained their big telescopes on the galaxy, known as NGC 613, about 80 million light-years from here in the constellation Sculptor. It was a rare instance in which astronomers were able to see the beginning of a supernova, when one of the most massive stars in the universe ends its life in one of the most violent events nature can cook up.

Most supernovas are far away and don’t call attention to themselves until their funeral pyre explosions are well underway. In this case, astronomers were able to record what they call the “breakout,” when a shock wave radiating from a star’s core, which has probably collapsed into a black hole, reaches the surface of the poor star and brightens it catastrophically.

“It’s like winning the cosmic lottery,” said Alex Filippenko, in a news release from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, where Dr. Filippenko, of the University of California, Berkeley, has been tracking the supernova.

The astronomers, who reported their findings on Wednesday in Nature, said the original star had probably been about 20 times as massive as the sun, but had blown most of that mass off into space before the decisive explosion began.

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Asteroid 2002 AJ129

JAKARTA, NNC – NASA is tracking a large asteroid that will pass through Earth at 10.9 Lunar Distance on February 4, 2018.

  • The asteroid, named 2002 AJ129 has an estimated diameter of 760.
  • The asteroid will travel at 76,000 mph (122,541 km/h), which makes it nearly 15 times faster than the world’s fastest manned aircraft, the hypersonic North American X-15.
  • Despite having a ‘dangerous’ classification, NASA says there is no possibility of colliding with Earth next week.
  • The asteroid is about 1.1 miles (1.1 km) wide and makes it longer than Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stands at a height of 0.5 miles (0.8 km).
  • The asteroid is set to pass through our planet at a distance of about 2,615,128 miles (4,208,641km) that is relatively close in space. As a reference, the distance between Earth and the moon is 238,855 miles (384,400 km).
  • NASA described asteroids as ‘dangerous’ if they are within 4,600,000 miles (7,480.00km) of our planet.

“We have been tracking this asteroid for more than 14 years, and we know its orbit very accurately.Our calculations show that the 2002 AJ129 asteroid has no chance of colliding with Earth on February 4, or within the next 100 years,” says Paul Chodas, manager of the NASA Center for Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, as quoted by Daily Mail, Sunday (28/1/2018).

This asteroid was discovered on January 15, 2002 by the NEAT (Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking) project. This is the largest space rock that can sweep our planet.

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