The US space agency, NASA, was successful in finding an asteroid that has been racing towards Earth. Thankfully, the asteroid was too small to cause any sort of damage as it broke apart in the atmosphere. Hawaii’s ATLAS telescope found the 5-meter asteroid while it was only 310.000 miles from the planet. Discovering the asteroid is being looked upon as a good sign as the planetary defense system is doing its part.
The asteroid was too small to threaten the Earth
Davide Farnocchia, a scientist at the NASA Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies comments: “Asteroids this size are far smaller than what we’re tasked to track. They’re so small, and 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.”
There would have been a great cause for concern if the asteroid had been more massive due to its course putting it in a direct impact range with Earth. Its small size caused it to break up in the atmosphere, causing a flash of light over the Caribbean Sea on the 22nd of June.
About NASA’s planetary defense against asteroids
Scientists are pretty good at detecting Near Earth Objects, but no clear solutions are to be had when it comes actually to defend against one. With our current missile technology not being enough to actually stop a massive asteroid from impacting the planet.
NASA is quite aware of this and will be testing a new technology as a result. DART or the Double Asteroid Redirection Test will take place in 2022. The purpose of the test is to see if NASA can alter the course of a small moonlet in the Didymos asteroid system.
The closest know moonlet that has come Earth’s range missed us by 4.5 million miles in 2003. It is expected to try and hit the planet again in 2123, but projections are that it will miss by 3.7 million miles this time.