The impact of the small asteroid 2022 EB5 was predicted two hours ago, which entered the Earth’s atmosphere on Friday 11 March and disintegrated over the Norwegian Sea: only two meters, it represented not a danger to Earth, but an opportunity to refine the international mechanisms responsible for planetary defense. This was actually the fifth time a small asteroid had been spotted in space before hitting Earth’s atmosphere: to reconstruct the entire story is a note from NASA.
“Small asteroids like 2022 EB5 are numerous and hit the atmosphere a lot, roughly every 10 months,” says Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (Cneos) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Jpl). “Very few of these asteroids have been discovered in space and were observed extensively before the collision, mainly because they were so faint until the last few hours before the collision and the telescope would have to monitor the right point in the sky at the right time so that it can detect one.”
In the case of 2022 EB5, the first to see the small asteroid two hours before the collision was astronomer Krisztián Sarneczky of the Piszkésteto Observatory in northern Hungary, who immediately reported this object to the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomy Union (Iau). Then NASA’s “Scout” Collision Risk Assessment System made the first measurements to calculate the asteroid’s path. As soon as it appeared that 2022 EB5 was about to hit Earth’s atmosphere, the system alerted Cneos and NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office and flagged the object on the Scout web page to inform the community of NEO-monitoring astronomers.
Initially, the first calculations indicated that the impact could have occurred in an area that ranged “from western Greenland to the coast of Norway,” says David Farnokia, the JPL engineer who developed the Scout. “As more observers began to track the asteroid, our calculations were the path and location of the impact becoming more accurate.” The scouts decided that EB5 of 2022 will enter the atmosphere southwest of Jan Mayen, a Norwegian island about 470 kilometers away. Off the eastern coast of Greenland and northeastern Iceland. Finally, at 22:23 Italian time on March 11, 2022, EB5 hit the atmosphere as predicted by Scout, and also confirmed by ultrasonic detectors.
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