South African farmer captures moment space rock hurtles towards farm

Katie Ramirez
June 7, 2018

Webcam footage of the asteroid captured in a rural area west of Johannesburg showed the asteroid as a glowing orb lighting up the night sky in a huge flash.

NASA immediately started investigating the objective and determined that the asteroid may collide with earth.

Representatives of the IAU indicated that "the asteroid 2018 LA no longer exists... it impacted the atmosphere on Saturday at a height of 50 kilometers above South Africa".

The farmer said he was driving home from his neighbours when he saw the "huge fireball" in the sky. "It was a fireball falling with this red tail behind and I thought that the grassland is going to burn", said Mr Swanepoel. "They both looked the same, very fast, bright and massive".

A two-meter space body was torn into small particles during entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

But, also a small space object has been the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk, in Russian Federation, back in 2013, and caused a shockwave that blew thousands of windows into pieces, causing small injuries in residents. Automated alerts were sent out to the community of asteroid observers to obtain further observations, and to the Planetary Defense Coordination Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

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"The discovery of asteroid 2018 LA is only the third time that an asteroid has been discovered to be on an impact trajectory, said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California". However, not all of them are big enough to pose a threat to our planet, and they are sometimes hard to spot until they reach our atmosphere. The officer added, "The modern facilities, capabilities, and the models for impact prediction have potential to predict the impact of larger objects".

All three asteroids were discovered through the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona, which is run by the University of Arizona and funded by NASA.

In 2008, an asteroid measuring 4 metres was spotted 19 hours in advance.

The second case was "2014 AA", which was discovered only a few hours before it fell into the Atlantic Ocean on January 1, 2014. Astronomers have spotted, plotted, and forecasted asteroid flybys months, years, and even decades ahead of time but sometimes space rocks can be sneaky, especially when they're small.

Interestingly, a much larger object from space - the Chelyabinsk meteorite - came upon the Land suddenly, and nobody could predict and warn people of danger.

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