An asteroid turned into a blazing fireball over Africa last weekend

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About eight hours after these images were taken, the asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere (about 12:44 p.m. EDT, 6:44 p.m. local Botswana time), and disintegrated in the upper atmosphere near Botswana, Africa.

After scientists at the Catalina Sky Survey spotted the asteroid, they relayed their observations to scientists at the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Scientists determined the asteroid was headed directly for Earth, but because it measured just 6 feet across, scientists knew it would quickly disintegrate in Earth's atmosphere.

Nasa's Near Earth Object Centre said that Asteroid 2018 LA was travelling at 27, 738 miles per hour and was about the size of a small vehicle. However, the asteroid was determined to be very small and therefore harmless.

Lindley Johnson, an official at NASA's Planetary Defense team described planetary defense team's thoughts saying: "T$3 his real-world event allows us to exercise our capabilities and gives some confidence our impact prediction models are adequate to respond to the potential impact of a larger object".

Initial estimates had the impact zone stretching from southern Africa across the Indian Ocean into New Guinea, with tracking systems then narrowing it down to southern Africa.

Asteroid 2018 LA was first discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey operated by the University of Arizona, the agency said. Thus, the asteroid has to come fairly close to Earth before it can be detected.

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Astronomers can easily track massive space rocks big enough to cause the extinction of humanity.

One such larger object was the asteroid that went completely undetected until it collided with the atmosphere over Russian Federation in 2013, creating a shock wave that blew out thousands of windows in the town of Chelyabinsk ans caused a number of injuries.

While there is a good chance of finding meteorites on the ground from the impact of 2018 LA, any fragments of the asteroid that made it to the surface would have been slowed considerably by their interaction with the atmosphere.

Those three were obviously not major threats, but hopefully, detection methods continue to improve so if a space object the size of Sokovia is heading our way, we have some time to prepare. Expert Geoff Notkin tells us how!

"It is also only the second time that the high probability of an impact was predicted well ahead of the event itself", said Chodas.

There have been only two other times when asteroids were detected so soon before impact.

On Oct. 7,2008, the 13-foot (4 m) asteroid 2008 TC3 hit Earthover northern Sudan. The second was 2014 AA, discovered only a few hours before it impacted over the Atlantic Ocean on January 1, 2014.

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