According to the PotIn the early hours of Saturday, November 19, the skies over southern ontario, canadalit up when a small asteroid harmlessly crossed the sky, broke up, and probably scattered small meteorites over the southern shore of Lake Ontario, near the Niagara Falls.
But, as reported by the space agency, the fireball was not a surprise. At approximately one meter across, the asteroid was detected three and a half hours before impact, making this event the sixth time in history that a small asteroid has been tracked in space before impacting Earth’s atmosphere. .
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NASA is tasked with detecting and tracking near earth objects much larger ones that could survive passage through the planet’s atmosphere and cause damage to the ground, but those objects can also be detected much earlier than small ones like the asteroid that broke up over southern Ontario.
Although these small asteroids are not a danger to life on Earth, NASA considers them a useful test of its capabilities. planetary defensefor discovery, tracking, orbit determination and impact prediction.
“The planetary defense community really demonstrated its skill and readiness with its response to this brief warning event,” said Kelly Fast, program manager for Near-Earth Object Observations at NASA. Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) at NASA headquarters in Washington. “Such harmless impacts become spontaneous real-world exercises and give us confidence that the agency’s planetary defense systems are capable of informing the response to the potential for a severe impact from a larger object.”
How was it tracked?
The asteroid was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey programfunded by NASA, which is based at the University of Arizona, on the afternoon of November 18 during routine search operations for near-Earth objects.
Observations were promptly reported to the Minor Planet Center (MPC), the internationally recognized clearinghouse for position measurements of small celestial bodies, and the data was automatically published on the Near-Earth Object Confirmation page.
The Scout impact risk assessment system of NASA, administered by the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, automatically retrieved the new data from that page and began calculating the object’s likely trajectory and chances of impact.
Seven minutes after the asteroid was posted on the confirmation page, Scout had determined that it had a 25% chance of impacting Earth’s atmosphere, with possible impact sites extending from the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of North America to Mexico.
Further observations were then provided by the astronomical community, including by amateur astronomers in Kansas, to further refine the asteroid’s trajectory and possible impact location.
ALEJANDRA LOPEZ P.
With information from NASA