The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have made it easy to spot and track large asteroids. It can spot objects just before they hit the Earth, even though it has no way of deflecting comets or asteroids on a collision course with our planet. Yes, you read it right. NASA has recently spotted an asteroid that was racing towards the Earth before it broke up in the atmosphere.
The US space agency has released new details of the discovery of a mysterious flash in Earth’s atmosphere over the Carribean Sea on June 22. According to a report by metro.co.uk, the unusual activity was spotted by a lightning detector on a weather satellite which draw astronomers’ attention. During the examination, it was revealed that the flash was actually caused by an asteroid speeding into our atmosphere.
Examining further, a team of astronomers combed through data from the University of Hawaii’s ATLAS survey telescope and found that NASA’s planetary defence system successfully spotted 310,000 miles from Earth.
Previously, it was said that the planetary defences are weak in tracking small space rocks. And now, the NASA’s spotting is being hailed as a significant sign of sophistication in planetary defence systems.
Coming back to the asteroid, the space rock was roughly 5 metres in size. “If it had been bigger, the object could have caused some serious damage and we would have no warning of an imminent impact ‘Asteroids this size are far smaller than what we’re tasked to track,” said Davide Farnocchia, a scientist at the Nasa Center for Near Earth Object Studies.
“They’re so small, they would not survive passing through our atmosphere to cause damage to Earth’s surface. But this event shows how capable our search programs are, even for objects of such small sizes,” he added.