Astronomers at the University of Hawaii used the ATLAS and Pan-STARRS survey telescopes to detect a small asteroid before it entered the Earth's atmosphere on the morning of June 22.
The 2019 MO asteroid had a diameter of 13 feet and 310,685 miles from Earth. The ATLAS facility watched it four times over 30 minutes around midnight in Hawaii.
Initially, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's scout impact analysis software considered the potential impact as 2. As a reference, 0 is "unlikely" and 4 "likely." Davide Farnocchia, Navigation Engineer at JPL, asked for additional observations as he noticed a discovery near Puerto Rico 12 hours later.
The Pan-STARRS telescope was also in operation and captured part of the sky where the asteroid could be seen.
The additional images from the Pan-STARRS telescope helped researchers better determine the asteroid entry path
The calculation was consistent and the weather radar in San Juan discovered the asteroid as it burned in our atmosphere. It entered the atmosphere over the ocean, 236 miles south of the city.
ATLAS, two 100-mile telescopes on the Big Island and Maui, scans the entire sky every two nights for asteroids that might hit Earth. It can spot small asteroids half a day before they arrive on Earth and may show days earlier on larger asteroids. 2019 MO was small enough to burn in the atmosphere.
Although much knowledge has been gained about their abilities and determinations about the asteroid, astronomers believe that ATLAS and Pan-STARRS could help predict more in the future.
Knowing the size and orbit of an asteroid is the main battle, as it allows for prediction.
"It is an exciting time for planetary defense, as we are on the verge of a flood of new observations we can track ten times more asteroids than we've ever tracked before, "said Lu. "In about two years, the LSST will come in and its detection rate will be higher than that of any other telescope combined, and tens of thousands of asteroids will be found and tracked in the first year." 19659002] Missions such as the NASA OSIRIS-REx and the Japanese Hayabusa2 are investigating asteroids in our solar system and want to bring samples back to Earth in the coming years. The near-earth object camera NEOCam characterizes near-earth objects.
In 1908, a powerful asteroid struck a remote Siberian forest in Russia into the Podkamennaya Tunguska River. The event targeted trees and destroyed 770 square kilometers of forest, nearly three-quarters of Rhode Island. The impact knocked people down in a city 40 miles away. Shockwaves rippled around the world and "glowing clouds" were visible.
The impact occurred in such a remote area that only a few dozen people saw it. Media speculated then that it could be a volcanic eruption or a mining accident. The idea of an asteroid attack seemed farfetched, NASA said in a press release. However, researchers found neither asteroid fragments nor a crater.
"Tunguska is the greatest cosmic influence modern humans have experienced," said David Morrison, a planetary science researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center, in a statement. "It is also characteristic of the type of impact we are likely to face in the future."
Six years ago, an asteroid over Chelyabinsk in Russia entered the Earth's atmosphere. It exploded in the air and released 20 to 30 times more energy than the first atomic bombs and produced more brightness than the sun. It damaged more than 7,000 buildings and injured more than 1,000 people. The shock wave broke the windows at a distance of 58 miles.
It had remained undetected because the asteroid came from the same direction and path as the Sun.
NASA and other space organizations around the world focus on detecting the threat of near-Earth objects, or NEOs, asteroids and comets, whose orbits place them within a radius of 30 million miles around the Earth.
There are no known NEOs that pose a significant threat. NASA's NEO program finances and builds on investigative and persecution efforts by observatories across the country and in space, and collaborates with observatories around the world.
Researchers modeled the events of Tunguska and Chelyabinsk on computers to understand how asteroid damages occur who can enter our atmosphere even if they break apart in the air.
The analysis provided a promising discovery. Four computer models came to a similar picture of what happened in Tunguska. The asteroid was probably rocky, not icy and had a diameter between 164 and 262 feet. He entered our atmosphere at a speed of 34,000 miles per hour. This created the energy that corresponded to the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 between 6 and 9 miles above the ground.
The researchers found that the interval between such devastating potential asteroid impacts on Earth based on the known asteroid population is millennia and not centuries.
"Because there are so few cases observed, there remains a lot of uncertainty about how large the asteroids in the atmosphere might break up and how much damage they could do to the ground," said NASA Ames researcher Lorien Wheeler, who was at the asteroid The agency is working on a threat analysis project. "Recent advances in computational modeling and analysis of events in Chelyabinsk and other meteors, however, help us better understand these factors so that we can better assess potential asteroid threats in the future."