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.

| Updated on: Feb 14 2023, 16:41 IST
Colossal 2400-foot asteroid, 4 other space rocks to buzz Earth soon
1/5 Asteroid 2023 BC8 - NASA has issued an alert against an asteroid named Asteroid 2023 BC8. The asteroid is expected to fly past Earth closely tomorrow, February 11, at a distance of 5 .9million kilometers. According to NASA, the asteroid is huge with a size of almost 160-foot across. This space rock is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 50564 kilometers per hour.  (NASA)
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2/5 Asteroid 2021 EP4 - A small 16 feet wide asteroid will fly past Earth by a very close margin on February 13. The asteroid, named Asteroid 2021 EP4, will make its closest approach with the planet at a distance of 7.2 million kilometers. The asteroid is travelling towards the planet at a blistering speed of 22107 kilometers per hour.  (NASA/JPL)
3/5 Asteroid 2022 RG – Another asteroid named 2022 RG will make its closest approach to Earth on February 16, at a distance of 3.1 million kilometers. The asteroid, with a width of 78 feet, is travelling at a staggering speed of 10953 kilometers per hour towards the planet.  (Wikimedia Commons)
4/5 Asteroid 2005 YY128 - NASA has issued an alert against another asteroid named Asteroid 2005 YY128. It is expected to fly past Earth closely on February 16 at a distance of 4.6 million kilometers. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a blistering speed of 88735 kilometers per hour. This asteroid is absolutely massive with a width of almost 2400 feet, making it nearly as big as a bridge!  (Pixabay)
5/5 Asteroid 2020 DG4 - The fifth asteroid which is set to make a close approach is named Asteroid 2020 DG4. It is heading for Earth and is expected to pass by the planet closely on February 17. Asteroid 2020 DG4 is already on its way towards us travelling at a fearsome speed of 24913 kilometers per hour. The asteroid, with a width between 20 feet and 45 feet, will make its closest approach to Earth at a distance of just 552,381 kilometers. (Pixabay)
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The asteroid was named SAR 2667 by the European Space Agency (ESA). (Gijs de Reijke)

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 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.

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First Published Date: 14 Feb, 16:41 IST