NASA predicts the impact site of a small asteroid more than two hours in advance

These small asteroids are not a danger to Earth, but they may be a useful test of NASA ‘s planetary.


It defense capabilities for orbit determination and impact prediction.

NASA ‘s Scout space object risk assessment system has been able to predict the impact site of a small asteroid on November 19 in Ontario, Canada with more than two hours.

At approximately 1 meter in diameter, 2022 WJ1 was discovered just 3.5 hours before impact, making this event the sixth time in history that a small asteroid has been tracked in space before impacting Earth’s atmosphere. Earth, reports the JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

These small asteroids are not a danger to Earth, but they may be a useful test of NASA ‘s planetary defense capabilities for discovery, tracking, orbit determination, and impact prediction.

This was the discovery of the asteroid

The asteroid was discovered by the NASA -funded Catalina Sky Survey, which is based at the University of Arizona in Tucson, on the afternoon of November 18 during routine search operations for near-Earth objects. Observations were quickly reported to the Minor Planet Center (MPC), the internationally recognized clearinghouse for position measurements of small celestial bodies, and the data was automatically published on the Near-Earth Object Confirmation page.

NASA ‘s Scout impact risk assessment system , which is maintained by the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at JPL, automatically retrieved the new data from that page and began calculating the possible trajectory of the object and the chances of impact. CNEOS calculates all known orbits of near-Earth asteroids to provide assessments of potential impact risks in support of NASA ‘s PDCO .

Seven minutes after the asteroid was posted on the confirmation page, Scout had determined that it had a 25% chance of impacting Earth’s atmosphere, with possible impact sites extending from the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of North America to Mexico. Further observations were then provided by the astronomical community, including by amateur astronomers in Kansas, to further refine the asteroid ‘s trajectory and possible impact location.

As Catalina continued to track the asteroid for the next few hours, Scout used this new data to continuously update the asteroid ‘s trajectory and the system’s assessment of the possibility of impact, posting those results on the hazard assessment system web page.

Many astronomers check the Scout web page throughout the night to determine the most important asteroids to track. A group of amateur astronomers from the Farpoint Observatory in Eskridge, Kansas, tracked the asteroid for over an hour, providing critical additional data that allowed Scout to confirm a 100% impact probability and determine the expected location of the atmospheric entry over the south. Ontario at 8:27 UTC on November 19. With more than two hours remaining before impact, there was time to alert scientists in southwestern Ontario to the bright fireball that would occur.

as predicted

As predicted, at 0827 UTC, the asteroid passed through Earth’s atmosphere at a shallow angle and broke up, probably producing a shower of small meteorites and leaving no surface damage. After this harmless breakup, the Minor Planet Center designated asteroid 2022 WJ1 to acknowledge its discovery while it was still in space.

NASA ‘s Meteorite Falls website also reported weather radar detections of fragments of the fireball falling as meteorites on schedule over Lake Ontario. Small meteorites can be found to the east of the town of Grimsby, while larger meteorites may be closer to the town of McNab. (Europe Press)