Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Asteroid burned up safely over Sudan

Asteroid 2008 TC3 [encircled] burns up over Sudan
A small asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere early this morning over Sudan. As predicted, the asteroid disintegrated upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere, creating a ball of fire over the African continent. The object was estimated at 6 metres in diameter. “The unique aspect of this event is that it is the first time we have observed an impacting object during its final approach,” said Don Yeomans of the Near-Earth Object Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Although astronomers were only able to establish the object and its trajectory hours before impact, it would still be enough to evacuate people in the area if the threat had been more serious. The first observations on the asteroid originated from the Mount Lemmon telescope of the Catalina Sky Survey early Monday, but the orbit was determined later on. Observations from astronomers all over the world, following its discovery, helped astronomers establish the course of the asteroid, and make accurate predictions on its orbit and expected interception with the Earth. The Near Earth Object Observation Program [NEO] is responsible for tracking asteroids and determining any possible threat.

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