CCTV captures moment crashing meteorite lights up the night sky

Artist's concept of a near-earth asteroid.                  NASA  JPL-CalTech

Artist's concept of a near-earth asteroid. NASA JPL-CalTech

The Catalina Sky Survey is a NASA-funded project run by the University of Arizona. According to NASA, the asteroid was determined to be on a collision course with Earth, with impact just hours away.

According to NASA, the space rock was estimated to be just 6 feet (2 meters) wide and broke apart several miles above the planet's surface, in the upper atmosphere near Botswana.

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

NASA discovered an asteroid heading straight to earth but watched it disintegrate before impact.

Additional observations by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) located in Hawaii, which tracked down 2018 LA a few hours before it slammed into our atmosphere, confirmed that the asteroid was on a collision trajectory and narrowed down the place of impact to southern Africa.

The dinosaurs were blasted into extinction 66 million years ago when a far bigger asteroid hit Earth but for the African wildlife living below this asteroid they had a lucky escape.

Considering the short time available to scientists using telescopes around the world to track and calculate the impact of asteroid 2018 LA, Brown called the results successful.


Just over 13 hours after it was detected, a bright "bolide" fireball was spotted at the end of that line, over the border between Botswana and South Africa.

Objects this small "are quite faint and hard to detect until they are very close, which is why we did not see it sooner", he said.

"The discovery of asteroid 2018 LA is only the third time that an asteroid has been discovered to be on an impact trajectory", Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in the statement.

Detecting asteroids as small as 2018 LA is very hard. The smaller an asteroid is, the less light it reflects, and thus the dimmer it appears.

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

The first event of this kind was the impact of asteroid 2008 TC3, which lit up the predawn sky above Northern Sudan on October 7, 2008. 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).

Catalina Sky Survey astronomers reported the asteroid finding to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which managed to calculate a preliminary trajectory for the asteroid.

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