NASA says the rock "disintegrated several miles above the surface" over Botswana, Africa, and it created a fireball that lit up the night sky.
Preliminary data suggests that asteroid 2018 LA entered the atmosphere at roughly 15 kilometres/second (or 54,000 km/h) and released energy equivalent to a half-kiloton of TNT.
'This was a much smaller object than we are tasked to detect and warn about, ' NASA's planetary defense officer, Lindley Johnson, said in a statement.
The Minor Planet Center then reported the asteroidto CNEOS. Here's how to know for sure!
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Trajectory path of ZLAF9B2 (2018 LA) plotted across Oceania, the Indian Ocean and Africa.
South African farmer Barend Swanepoel posted this incredible footage of the cosmic boulder heading towards his farm at Ottosdal near the border with Botswana at 6.40pm on Saturday.
"The advantage I had was I saw it in colour and it was not like on the cameras".
NASA scans the skies regularly for asteroids and comets that could be a threat to life on Earth. However, the asteroid was determined to be very small and therefore harmless.
When it was first detected, the asteroid was almost as far away as the Moon's orbit, although that was not initially known.
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Astronomers can easily track massive space rocks big enough to cause the extinction of humanity.
The asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February 2013, for example, was estimated at around 20 metres wide, and the air blast produced by its explosion managed to shatter windows throughout the city. The asteroid hit Earth's atmosphere over the southern African nation of Botswana at 12:44 p.m. EDT (1644 GMT) while hurtling down at a whopping 38,000 miles per hour (61,155 km/h). Only two other instances come to mind, according to JPL.
"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 NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California". "It is also only the second time that the high probability of an impact was predicted well ahead of the event itself". The first was 2008 TC3, which was detected 15 hours before it broke up over northern Sudan on October 7, 2008.
The 2008 asteroid was spotted 19 hours in advance and measured 13 feet, or 4 meters. The 2014 asteroid was discovered just a few hours before entering over the Atlantic, with little time for tracking.
Smaller objects are fainter and more hard to spot in a large sky, though efforts like the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey are increasingly able to search a wider field of sky to find these somewhat elusive objects.
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