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NASA tracked down a small asteroid before it dissolved into the atmosphere



By a lightning detector on a NOAA weather satellite
discovered something last Saturday that was not lightning fast, a scientist at the center
for near-earth object studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
California, has done detective work.

Could be a tiny, harmless object that is in the
Atmosphere in a bright flash with a just received automated alarm from being connected
a potential near-Earth asteroid discovery? Although far below the size
NASA's mission is to identify and track the event which provided an ideal opportunity for
NASA planetary defense teams test their parts of the alarm system.

The result? The flow of alarm data works and the culprit
was identified: it was an asteroid. Now termed 201

9 MO, the asteroid was only
5 feet (16 feet) tall and was detected at 9:45 UTC (2:45 PDT 5:45 PM)
on Saturday, June 22, from the ATLAS Survey of the University of Hawaii
Telescope on Maunaloa in Hawaii.

When 2019 was first discovered, it was approximately 500,000 miles (310,000 miles)
Kilometers) from Earth – further away than the orbit of our Moon. That was about like that
the equivalent of something the size of a mosquito at a distance of 310
Miles (500 kilometers).

The first four observations of ATLAS were submitted to
NASA funded Minor Planet Center (the global computing hub for
Asteroid observations) and immediately assessed by automated impact analysis
Software, called Scout, at JPL. Scout quickly recognized a possible influence. The
The observations were too small to give any assurance, but showed that the size would be far away
too small to be questionable.

"Asteroids of this size are much smaller than us
tasked to pursue, "said Davide Farnocchia, a scientist at the Center for
Near Earth Object Studies, which Scout operates. "You are so small, you
it would not survive to get through our atmosphere to harm the earth
Surface. But this event shows how powerful our search programs are, even for
Objects of such small size. "

Scout works with the processing of sky position measurements of
any potential new asteroid and quickly calculate the possible range of the future
Movement, even before these objects were confirmed as discoveries.

The puzzle was closer to being solved in the early evening
of June 22, when a NOAA NASA weather satellite GOES-16 called with a geostationary
Lightning Mapper
reported a possible bolide – the bright flash of a
Asteroid that affects the Earth's atmosphere – over the Caribbean Sea. JPL & # 39; s
Farnocchia realized that the Scout object that was tagged earlier that day may be
caused this bolide, and he dug into the data. He calculated a viable trajectory
that would match the coordinates of both flashes captured by the flash mapper
and the ATLAS observations from about 12 hours earlier.

Farnocchia noted down the data for the tiny new asteroid
not yet conclusive: The body had been discovered in less than four times
Half an hour, which was not enough to determine where the object was
came from or exactly where it went.

Fortunately, NASA financed Pan-STARRS 2
The survey telescope on Maui had depicted the part of the sky where the little one was
Asteroid could have been visible a few hours before the ATLAS
Observations. From the potential orbit that Farnocchia had calculated, Pan-STARRS scientist Robert Weryk
and Mark Huber, both at the Department of Astronomy of the University of Hawaii, and
Marco Micheli of the European Space Agency has located the asteroid in pictures that
was taken shortly before the ATLAS observations.

With
These additional observations resulted in a more accurate trajectory for the asteroid
calculated and solved the puzzle: the object that has influenced the atmosphere
The asteroid was discovered by ATLAS 12 hours earlier over the Caribbean and
marked by Scout.

The
Impact of asteroid 2019 MO has now been confirmed by international infrasound
and other US Government sensors and added to the CNEOS Fireball Map.

JPL hosts the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS)
for NASA's Near-Earth Object Observation Program in NASA's Planetary Defense
Coordination Office.

More
For information on CNEOS, asteroids, and near-Earth objects, see:

https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov

For
For more information on NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, please visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/planetarydefense

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News Media Contact

Gretchen McCartney
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
818-393-6215
gretchen.p.mccartney@jpl.nasa.gov

Alana Johnson
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1501
Alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

2019-127


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