A Tiny Asteroid Just Hit Earth, Sparking Fireball Over South Africa

A Tiny Asteroid Just Hit Earth, Sparking Fireball Over South Africa

A Tiny Asteroid Just Hit Earth, Sparking Fireball Over South Africa

It entered Earth's atmosphere at the high speed of 10 miles per second and disintegrated several miles above the surface, creating a fireball that lit up the evening sky, said NASA.

"This was a much smaller object than we are tasked to detect and warn about", Lindley Johnson, a NASA Planetary Defense Officer, said in a statement.

A faint figure was discovered moving across the sky on Saturday by the Catalina Sky Survey, outside of Tucson, Arizona.

Think again. Humanity has only detected an asteroid on a collision course a handful of times - and only one other of these sightings took place with ample time to spare before it hit us.

Asteroid 2018 LA was almost as far away as the moon (which is typically about 239,000 miles, or 384,600 km, from Earth) when it was first discovered on Saturday, NASA officials said.

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Hours later, it hit Earth travelling at 38,000 mph and caused a huge fireball to appear in the sky above Botswana, Africa. NASA scientists and astronomers around the world regularly observe the sky for any signs of potential risky asteroids that could pose an impact threat to the Earth. This is a third such instance of tracking small asteroids with impact trajectory.

National Geographic previously reported that scientists have calculated the odds of dying from an asteroid, meteorite, or comet impact and they found that the probabilities are incredibly low.

Video posted on YouTube, from a farm just across the border in South Africa, showed a fireball swiftly descending and getting bigger, and then a blinding flash in the sky.

The prediction models predicted impact somewhere between Southern Africa, across the Indian Ocean, or as far east as New Guinea.

An asteroid four times as big exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013 in an airburst blowing out windows injuring more than 1,500 people mainly due to cuts caused by flying glass and debris.

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Detecting asteroids as small as 2018 LA is very hard.

Because astronomers spotted the space rock when it was so close to our planet, they couldn't say exactly where it would impact.

Only twice before has a small asteroid been detected hours before colliding with Earth.

The 2014 asteroid was discovered just a few hours before entering over the Atlantic, with little time for tracking. For all three objects, the observer on watch was Richard Kowalski, a senior research specialist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona.

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