Jan 27, 2020
Discovered-photographed-destroyed. Boom-boom-boom. March 11th was an eventful day for 2022 EB5. Hungarian astronomer Krisztián Sárneczky discovered the asteroid at 19:24 UT. Italian astronomer Enrico Pettarin photographed the asteroid at 20:28 UT:

A bright fast moving object, detected at GINOP-KHK observatory in Hungary by Krisztián Sárneczky, at 19:24 UTC. In addition to numerous images of the discoverer, the object was confirmed by M. Urbanik (KYSUCE Observatory, Kysucke Nove Mesto, Slovakia) and by me at the CCAF Observatory (Farra d'Isonzo, Gorizia, Italy) at 20:28 UT. Published on the MPEC 2022-E178 with the designation 2022 EB5, the orbit indicated an impact with the Earth's atmosphere around March 11 21:22 UTC southwest of Jan Mayen island (Arctic Ocean), as determined by D. Farnocchia with the JPL Scout System. The estimated size was around 2 meters. This is the second time I've seen an asteroid before it hits Earth - so surveillance works! In the animation the asteroid is trailed to emphasize its movement (5s exposure, 0.61-m f/4.5 reflector), from 20:40:28 UTC to 20:42:50 UTC, 38000 km from the Earth's center.

The asteroid destroyed itself at ~21:22 UT when it hit Earth's atmosphere off the coast of Iceland, disintegrating harmlessly as a bright fireball. The entire sequence of events took less than 2 hours.

The explosion was detected by Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization infrasound stations in Greenland and Norway. Combining data from the two locations, University of Western Ontario astronomer Peter Brown estimates that "the asteroid exploded with an energy close to 2 kilotons of TNT. Assuming a speed of 15 km/s, it must have been about 3 meters in diameter," he say

infrasound_strip greenland.png
Recorded in Greenland, the infrasound signature of asteroid 2022 EB5 exploding.

This is only the 5th time an asteroid was discovered just before it hit Earth. The others were 2008 TC3 (Sudan), 2014 AA (Atlantic Ocean), 2018 LA(Botswana), and 2019 MO (Puerto Rico). All were small space rocks that did no damage when they broke up in our planet's atmosphere. 2022 EB5 appears to be the smallest yet, and demonstrates that humans are getting better at finding potentially dangerous asteroids before they strike.


I am exceedingly pleased that we are getting better at observing near Earth asteroids before they slam into our atmosphere and strike the Earth. Forewarned is prepared.



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