Wow! 3-foot asteroid fireball lights up the European skies on Feb 12
A small asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere on February 12 and it lit up the skies over European regions of France and others.
A 3-feet wide asteroid lit up the skies over Europe on February 12 as it turned into a fireball. Although asteroids often make close trips to Earth, they seldom come close enough to pose any potential damage. The possibility of asteroids impacting the surface is even less. But that does not mean these space rocks have never hit Earth. In fact, a small asteroid crashed into the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia and caused millions in damage, leaving over 1400 people injured on 15 February 2013.
Almost exactly a decade later, a 3.2 feet wide Asteroid turned into a fireball over the European skies where it was captured by astronomers and skywatchers. It was first discovered by Krisztian Sarneczky with a 2-foot telescope at Konkoly Observatory's Piszkesteto Station, located about 100 kilometers northeast from Budapest. The information was then passed to the European Space Agency (ESA) hours before the impact. The asteroid named SAR 2667, fell into the atmosphere on February 12 around 10 p.m. EST.
Sárneczky told Space.com senior writer Tereza Pultarova, “I discovered this small body during a routine NEO [near Earth object] hunt. It was immediately obvious that it was an NEO, but it wasn't particularly fast across the sky, as it was heading right towards us, and it was faint.”
According to ESA, it is only the 7th time that an asteroid impact has been predicted with the previous prediction also made by Sárneczky. ESA tweeted, “@esaoperations reported a 1 m meteoroid before it entered Earth's atmosphere over northern France early this morning: only the 7th time an #asteroidimpact has been predicted - but a sign of the rapid advances in global detection capabilities!”
NASA tech used to study asteroids
NASA not only uses its space telescopes and observatories like the NEOWISE to observe and study distant asteroids, but also a variety of ground-based telescopes such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) located in the Antofagasta Region of the Atacama Desert in Chile.
NASA uses its Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) and scans the night sky for moving objects and reports any potential asteroid detections, while some space-based observatories use infrared sensors to detect asteroids and their characteristics.