Asteroid 2018 LA Strikes Earth

Asteroid 2018 LA was discovered early on 02 June 2018 and was determined to be on a collision course with Earth. This rock was only a couple of meters across so it was small, still I would have hoped to hear something about it on the news – there is a reason for that as you will see. The really great part about all of this is this tiny asteroid was spotted at all. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CSS-Univ. of Arizona

Anyway. . .

The story from NASA is below but there are reports of meteors falling to Earth over the weekend at about the same time. One in China where fragments of meteorites that fell in southwest China’s on June 1 have been found in a village of the province’s Menghai County, Yunnan Province. Reports had two fragments coming through roofs and one being found in a corn field.

Another is from farmer Barend Swanepoel in South Africa and not only did he witness the incoming meteor he captured a video and posted in on Face Book. Here’s the YouTube version:

NASA: 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.

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.”

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