Astronomers discovered the meteoroid two hours before it collided with Earth. This is only the fifth case

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On the night of Friday, March 11, on Saturday, astronomer Krisztián Sárneczky observed a small stone body using the Schmidt telescope at the Piszkésteto mountain observatory. Two hours later, a roughly three-meter boulder flew at 11.7 km / s (approximately 40,000 km / h) north of Iceland into the atmosphere of our planet.

Probably the most interesting thing about the whole event is the fact that it is only the fifth body, which was observed before entering the Earth’s atmosphere. So far, this has only worked for the objects designated 2008 TC3, 2014 AA, 2018 LA and 2019 MO.

Exceptional situation

The meteoroid, later designated 2022 EB5, was discovered by Krisztián Sárneczky on March 11 at 20:24 Central European Time in telescope images. It was an unknown moving object with a stellar size of 17 mag (ie unobservable to the naked eye). The data obtained thirty minutes later showed that it would collide with the Earth in 2 hours.

It also really happened and the object subsequently entered the Earth’s atmosphere. It is not known if it burned (most likely yes) or if it landed in the Arctic Ocean. Even if it became very hot during the flight through the atmosphere, its fragments could fall to the ground.

The International Meteor Organization is now seeking information from anyone who may have witnessed the dazzling meteor. Several people in Iceland watched the flash or blast. If you believe you have seen a meteor, you can report using a simple form.

Amateur astronomer Tony Dunn, who simulates the orbits of planets, comets and asteroids, posted a short video on Twitter on Saturday morning, showing the trajectory of the meteoroid shortly before the collision with the Earth.

Space tourists on a collision course

Most asteroids in the solar system orbit the Sun in a large ring between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It is estimated that this area, called the Asteroid Belt, contains more than 200 objects with a diameter of more than 100 kilometers. In addition, according to NASA, there are 1.1 to 1.9 million asteroids larger than 1 kilometer in diameter and millions smaller.

The first meteoroid observed before the collision with Earth was 2008 TC3. It weighed 80 tons and had an average of 4.1 meters. It exploded in October 2008 over the Nubian Desert in Sudan, becoming the source of approximately 600 meteorites found.

In 2014, an object marked 2014 AA flew over Venezuela through the Earth’s atmosphere. Four years later, a boulder called 2018 LA followed, leaving fragments near the borders of Botswana and South Africa. The fourth meteoroid observed before the impact on Earth was the 2019 MO, which caused a harmless explosion of the equivalent of 5 kilotons off the south coast of Puerto Rico.

The last major collision with an object from space took place in 2013, when a small body about 19 meters large exploded over Russia’s Chelyabinsk. The meteoroid hit the Earth’s atmosphere with an estimated energy of 500,000 tons of TNT and caused a pressure wave that orbited the globe twice, causing extensive damage and its consequences (most often in the form of broken windows) injured more than 1,600 people.



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