A small asteroid struck the Earth above Iceland last Friday — just two hours after it was first spotted by an astronomer.
The space rock, named 2022 EB5, is believed to have mostly burnt up in our planet’s atmosphere, but even if it had impacted the surface it would have done little to no damage because it was just 10 feet (3 meters) wide, about half the size of a giraffe.
Some people in Iceland reported hearing a boom or seeing a flash of light around the time 2022 EB5 scooted across the sky at 11 miles per second (18.5 km/s) between Greenland and Norway.
Due to the extreme speeds at which it was traveling, the asteroid harmlessly vaporized in Earth’s atmosphere. However, experts say even if the asteroid had touched down on Earth, it wouldn’t have caused much damage due to its small size.
At present, it is unclear whether any residual fragments survived impact.
Rare instance asteroid is discovered prior to impact on Earth
When 2022 EB5 struck the Earth, it marked the fifth known instance of an asteroid being discovered prior to impact, astronomer Marian Rudnyk noted in a tweet.
Rudnyk added that this statistic highlights just how dangerous asteroids are and “how vulnerable we are.”
In an attempt to address this vulnerability, NASA recently conducted a simulated experiment to assess the impact of an asteroid smashing into Earth, per a new report.
The simulated exercise, which spanned a course of two days, aimed to gauge the United States’ ability to respond effectively to an asteroid threat.
It also focused on whether agency officials could coordinate efficiently across federal, state, and local government levels.
An asteroid impact on our planet is one of few natural disasters science is capable of accurately predicting — and potentially preventing.
Astronomers consider a near-Earth object a threat if it will come within 4.6 million miles (7.4 million km) of the planet and is at least 460 feet (140 meters) in diameter.
If a celestial body of this size crashed into Earth, it could destroy an entire city and cause extreme regional devastation. Larger objects – 0.6 miles (1 km) or more – could have global effects and even cause mass extinctions.
Earth Trojan asteroids
A new study published in February has revealed the existence of an Earth Trojan asteroid, only the second of its kind to be discovered.
Astronomers found asteroid 2020 XL5 while operating the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope in Chile. The team has now published their study on the discovery in Nature Communications.
“Trojans are objects sharing an orbit with a planet, clustered around one of two special gravitationally balanced areas along the orbit of the planet known as Lagrange points,” wrote study co-author Cesar Briceño in a statement.
Trojan asteroids are named in honor of ancient Greece in reference to the Trojan War. Trojans are small celestial bodies, typically asteroids, that move in the same orbit as larger objects, and are thus co-orbital.