Imagine that: you sleep under the South African stars when suddenly an asteroid paints the sky with a bright light and then plunges into the wilderness on the horizon. For a few in Botswana, this was their Saturday night on June 2nd. Cast aside romance: A small asteroid crashed into the ground over the weekend, and you probably have not heard of it.
Said asteroid is officially known as 2018 LA, and was discovered only eight hours before it crashes into space, according to the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS), a NASA-sponsored initiative to fulfill Congressional mandate, at least 90 percent To document the estimated population of Near Earth Object (NEWS)
According to CSS, it was discovered Saturday morning by Catalina Sky Survey observer Richard Kowalski:
Early Saturday morning, June 2, 2018, Catalina Sky Survey has observer Richard Kowalski routinely takes measurements for a putative new asteroid candidate for Harvard University's Minor Planet Center. He watched the object with a 60-inch mirror telescope on Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains outside of Tucson, Arizona.
It fell into the ground eight hours later, largely dissolving in the atmosphere in a fireball.
CSS explains that it is the third time that an asteroid that could hit Earth has been discovered by scientists. Every time Kowalski was behind the discoveries. In 2008, he discovered TC3 in 2008, the first asteroid in history discovered just before it hit Earth. Twenty hours later it collapsed over the Sudan.
In 2014, Kowalski discovered the asteroid 2014 A before colliding with the Atlantic Ocean.
Fortunately, all of these asteroids were quite small, and no one met populous regions. Still, you have to wonder what would happen if you took them to a big city.
Danica Remy, president of the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit organization tasked with protecting the earth from dangerous asteroids, told Salon that the text message was due, a combination of the size of the asteroid and the ground the telescope could cover ,
"Space is big and it's dark," she told Salon, adding that currently used telescopes do not cover the entire sky. "Better and earlier notice is what [I’d] advocates here, but in this case it was a small asteroid that most telescopes will not see."
Hence the 8-hour message. Remy said it was a real win for asteroid research because it was a great example of how researchers and technology worked together and what resources were available.
Remy added that lack of funding traditionally prevented organizations like B612 Foundation
"We have the technology to find these asteroids, but we have not funded the solutions," Remy said.
Remy said it was important to keep an eye on the financing and size of the asteroids in search of objects, especially those larger than 30 meters. If such an asteroid hit a bigger city, it would probably cause catastrophic damage.
"We always remember that the earth is mostly covered by water and that it is largely uninhabited and thus the likelihood of being hit is low," Remy said to Salon. "The fact is we humans now Have the ability to find them – the question is whether we have the will to fund the discovery work. "