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The sixth asteroid impact we saw coming

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in a nutshell

November 19, Asteroid 2022 WJ1 It became one of many small asteroids to hit Earth, but it was only the sixth we’ve seen so far. This year, mankind predicted an asteroid impact. A rock about 1 m did no harm and burned up in a fireball above Toronto. This asteroid detection, warning, and preliminary observation indicates a rapidly growing ability to warn of asteroid impacts.


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A timelapse of WJ1 in 2022 taken by astronomer Robert Wellick in Ontario, Canada

The first discovery of asteroid 2022 WJ1 was Catalina Sky Survey – One of the major projects dedicated to the discovery and tracking of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) – 04:53 UTC (05:53 CET) on November 19, 2022, 4 hours before impact.

The new asteroid was first imaged by Catalina’s 1.5 m. mount lemon telescopeand when four observations were made, it was reported. Minor Planet Center (MPC), 05:31 UTC, 38 minutes after first detection.

These four observations were enough to map the orbit of an asteroid in the sky, and within minutes of this “astronomical observation” being published, ESA’s internal monitoring software predicted that the object could hit Earth. It reported that the probability is ~20% and there is probably a collision somewhere. In North America in the next few hours. Minutes later, other impact monitoring programs also sent out alerts outlining similar scenarios.

Initial impact corridor calculated by ESA’s Meerkat tool at 05:36 UTC from initial observations of asteroid 2022 WJ1

Following the notification of the potential impact, observers in Catalina and elsewhere across the United States received follow-up observations of the new asteroid. was confirmed by A small asteroid, perhaps less than a meter in diameter, was about to hit somewhere between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario near the US-Canada border. :27 UTC (09:27 CET).

At the exact predicted time, a roughly 1-meter asteroid hit the atmosphere and exploded into a spectacular fireball above the predicted location. For more information about this event, visit ESA’s Near-Earth Object Coordination Center (NEOCC). web portal.

Asteroid Impact: What Are the Risks?

Due to how the solar system formed, small bodies make up most of its total population. It is estimated that there are 40 to 50 million small asteroids, and “exactly” 1,000 of the largest giant ‘planet killers’. The rest are in between.

Infographic: Explaining Asteroid Hazards

We now know of over 1.1 million asteroids, but there are many more. Of those found, about 30,600 move in orbits approaching Earth’s orbit.these are “Near-Earth Asteroids” (NEAs).

The encouraging news is that nearly all giant asteroids have been found, with over 95% found and nothing to worry about for the next 100 years. Astronomers are tirelessly searching for every last one.

Chelyabinsk Asteroid Trail

A small meter-sized asteroid hits the Earth every few weeks. It improves our understanding of asteroid populations, fireballs, and their composition, but is not a major priority when it comes to planetary defense, as it poses no real danger.

The celestial bodies we are most concerned about are the “Goldilocks asteroids”, large enough to cause harm if they collide, and there are enough asteroids known to do harm at some point. The infamous Chelyabinsk impact of February 2013 and the Tunguska impact of June 1908 fall into this category, and much remains to be done when it comes to discovering these asteroids.

Didymus Hera

That’s why ESA Planetary Defense Agency New ground-based telescopes and missions in space are planned to improve asteroid detection capabilities, with NASA sending a Hera mission to the impacted Dimorphos asteroid dirt mission In addition to testing the deflection of the asteroid, we will work with the international community to prepare for scenarios in which a larger asteroid is discovered on a collision course.

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