Headlines > News > First 2014 Asteroid Discovered

First 2014 Asteroid Discovered

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Jan 3, 2014 10:07 am via: NASA
Share
More share options
Tools
Tags

Early Wednesday morning (Jan. 1, 2014), while New Year’s 2014 celebrations were still underway in the United States, the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz., collected a single track of observations with an immediate follow-up on what was possibly a very small asteroid — 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size — on a potential impact trajectory with Earth.

Designated 2014 AA, which would make it the first asteroid discovery of 2014, the track of observations on the object allowed only an uncertain orbit to be calculated. However, if this was a very small asteroid on an Earth-impacting trajectory, it most likely entered Earth’s atmosphere sometime between 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) Wednesday and 6 a.m. PST (9 a.m. EST) Thursday.

This animated GIF shows Asteroid 2014 AA, discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey on Jan. 1, 2014, as it moved across the sky. Image Credit: CSS/LPL/UA

This animated GIF shows Asteroid 2014 AA, discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey on Jan. 1, 2014, as it moved across the sky. Image Credit: CSS/LPL/UA

Using the only available observations, three independent projections of the possible orbit by the independent orbit analyst Bill Gray, of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., and Steve Chesley, of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., are in agreement that 2014 AA would hit Earth’s atmosphere. According to Chesley, the potential impact locations are widely distributed because of the orbit uncertainty, falling along an arc extending from Central America to East Africa. The most likely impact location of the object was just off the coast of West Africa at about 6 p.m. PST (9 p.m. EST) Jan. 1.

It is unlikely asteroid 2014 AA would have survived atmospheric entry intact, as it was comparable in size to asteroid 2008 TC3, which was about 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size. 2008 TC3 completely broke up over northern Sudan in October 2008. Asteroid 2008 TC3 is the only other example of an object discovered just prior to hitting Earth. So far, there have been a few weak signals collected from infrasound stations in that region of the world that are being analyzed to see if they could be correlated to the atmospheric entry of 2014 AA.

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program at NASA Headquarters, Washington, manages and funds the search, study and monitoring of asteroids and comets whose orbits periodically bring them close to Earth. JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

No comments
Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this article!
Leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
© 2014 The International Space Fellowship, developed by Gabitasoft Interactive. All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy | Terms of Use