Astronomers Spot First Asteroid of 2014

Astronomers, asteroid, science, earth

Astronomers spotted the very first asteroid of 2014, which was about the size of car and it hit the Earth just after the New Year began. Scientists in Tucson, Arizona discovered the asteroid, early Jan. 1 and labeled it as 2014 AA. It was thought that the asteroid probably came into the Earth’s atmosphere sometime between Wednesday and Thursday.

Several other sources also stated that the asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere on New Year’s Day over the Atlantic Ocean. The scientists in Arizona immediately followed up on it and confirmed their reports. They stated that the most probable location of impact for the asteroid was just off the West African coast around 6 p.m. PST Jan. 1. The space rock actually entered into the Earth’s atmosphere nearly 22 hours later and most likely ended up breaking up.

With such accurate astronomic data and fast follow up, provided by the Arizona team of astronomers, it permitted orbit forecasters from NASA to be able to figure out potential impact regions across the Earth.

Based upon the Arizona astronomers observations, astronomer Steve Chesley was able to create the map of potential impact locations for asteroid 2014 AA.

The geo-location resulting from Chesley permitted other researchers to examine all of the data he submitted from low frequency infrasound observation sites. They were able to discover weak signals being emitted from places in Brazil, Bermuda and Bolivia. These all showed possible indications that the possible impact site was very possible to happen within the predicted area.

It is believed that there are nearly a billion near-Earth objects that are about the size of 2014 AA and it is suggested impacts of equal sized objects happen many times every year.

Even with the high quality of the infrasound technique, there is still a narrow amount of optical tracking data that is available before impact that makes it extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact time and location. Even so, Chesley gave out the following approximation. He stated that impact time would be on Jan. 1, 2014 at 11:02 p.m. EST. He was wrong on the time, as earlier noted in this article but his approximation and attention to detail was incredibly admirable.

In comparison, the asteroid that came into the Earth’s atmosphere over Russia back on Feb. 15, 2013 was believed to have been at least 17 to 20 meters in size. This would have been a lot bigger than Asteroid 2014 AA.

There is a non-profit organization which goes by the name of B612 foundation and it has made plans to try and build a private space telescope in which it will be able to locate any previously undiscovered near-Earth asteroids. It feels that groups such as it are needed all over the world in order to keep watch on the skies, in order to try and keep the Earth as safe as possible. Volunteers would be watching the sky 24 hours a day, seven days a week, looking for any space rocks that might show up.

Astronomers have already spotted the very first asteroid of 2014. That was quite a way to bring in the New Year.

By Kimberly Ruble

Sources:

The Examiner

Space News

Lake County News

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