A small asteroid struck the Earth’s atmosphere above Iceland last Friday, just two hours after it was spotted by an astronomer.
On March 11, Hungarian astronomer Krisztián Sárneczky, from the Piszkéstető Observatory near Budapest, spotted a small asteroid headed toward our planet.
The asteroid, now dubbed 2022 EB5 by the Minor Planet Center, was about 10 feet wide, the approximate size of a grand piano.
It was spotted late because it was moving so quickly, close to 18 kilometres per second, reports the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Near-Earth Objects Coordination Centre.
In a news release, the space agency said that 30 minutes after the discovery, data showed the asteroid was just two hours away from colliding with Earth’s atmosphere.
ESA also said this discovery was the fifth time that an asteroid has been observed before impacting the atmosphere.
If the asteroid had been larger, it would have been possible to detect it and track it much earlier, and at a much greater distance.
This is “probably a once in a lifetime” experience for an “asteroid hunter,” Sárneczky told Space.com.
The asteroid was not captured on video or in still images as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere, said ESA, but the impact did register on infrasound networks.
Experts believe the space rock burned up when it entered Earth’s atmosphere above the Norwegian Sea, leaving no impact site on the Earth’s surface.
However, they estimate that the energy released when the rock entered the atmosphere was likely the equivalent of two to three kilotons of dynamite.