An asteroid lit up the sky over the English Channel early this morning after scientists accurately predicted its strike – only the seventh time it has happened.
The European Space Agency announced Sunday night that the 1-meter-sized object will enter Earth’s atmosphere and hit the surface around the French city of Rouen. The BBC then reported that it was seen over the channel, creating a spectacular shooting star effect.
ESA named the small asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere on Monday as Sar2667, adding that its prediction was “a sign of rapid progress in global asteroid detection capabilities”. The BBC reported that the International Meteor Organisation, a non-profit organization based in Belgium, said the object would have come in about 4km (2.5 miles) off the French coast and created a “fireball” effect.
ESA scientists described how the previous prediction came about, explaining that “the initial discovery of asteroid 2022 WJ1 came from the Catalina Sky Survey – one of the major projects dedicated to the discovery and monitoring of near-Earth objects” November 19, 2022.
They said the asteroid was first recorded by the Catalina telescope and, after four observations over a period of about half an hour, was reported to the Minor Planet Center.
“These four observations were enough to map the asteroid’s path across the sky,” they said, adding that – within minutes of the data being published – ESA’s internal tracking software had suggested that the object was likely to hit somewhere in the North America. the next two to three hours.
“After alerts of a possible impact, observers at Catalina and elsewhere in the US received follow-up observations of the new asteroid. Less than 30 minutes after the initial trigger, the impact was confirmed with great precision: the small asteroid, probably less than a meter in diameter, was going to hit somewhere between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, near the US-Canada border.
It was expected to impact between about 8.30am and 9.30am. UK time. “Just at the predicted time, a ~1 meter asteroid hit the atmosphere and became a brilliant fireball above the expected location,” they said.