Millions of meteoroids reach the Earth’s atmosphere every single day, and most of them are too small to reach the surface. They can be travelling as fast as 130,000 mph, and luckily enough, it’s due to air friction that such ‘unwanted guests’ don’t hit the ground.
CNN writes that for the first time, scientists were able to map the journey of an asteroid that landed on our planet and trace its origin back to 22 million years ago.
2018 LA enters the cosmic scene
The asteroid in question is 2018 LA, which measured about 1.7 meters in diameter before breaking apart and landing in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The space rock was spotted as a fireball over the skies of Botswana in the middle of 2018 before exploding.
Christian Wolf, who is a study co-author and associate professor from the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University, declared:
As the asteroid broke up 27 km (16.7 miles) above ground, it was 20,000 times brighter than the full moon.
Peter Brown, who is professor and Canada Research Chair at Western University’s in Planetary Small Bodies from Ontario, collaborated with the Western Meteor Group to analyze the sound waves from the asteroid as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere. The conclusion was that the asteroid reached one-thirtieth of the energy created by the atomic bomb that exploded during The Second World War in Hiroshima. Brown declared:
The infrasound shockwave measured in South Africa was not as strong as expected from U.S. Government sensor detections of the bright light.
The 2018 LA asteroid is also known as ZLAF9B2, and it falls into the category of small Apollo near-Earth asteroids. The space rock’s remaining fragments impacted our planet’s atmosphere at roughly 16:44 UTC (18:44 local time) on June 2, 2018, near the border that separates Botswana and South Africa.
The new study was published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.