On June 2, 2018, the asteroid 2018 exploded across LA Botswana, dropping a huge area with meteors. Earlier, several telescopes spotted the 2018 LA – the second time we saw an asteroid in space before hitting Earth.
These observations, combined with 2018LA’s unique geology, gave us information on this path, allowing the asteroid to traverse the path it took 22 million years, when a collision caused the asteroid to close. The purpose of the global network looking to move in the sky is to warn us about large objects such as threats. Sometimes, however, they pick up much smaller objects.
At 5,700 kilograms (12,566 pounds) you don’t want the 2018 LA to land on you, but the global risk was reduced. At just 156 centimeters (5.1 feet) across, it was only a day before the injury that we detected this 2018 LA – too late to process its orbital data and provide an alert.
However, after detecting a satellite flash such as the 2018 LA hit the Earth’s atmosphere, and people across Botswana and South Africa received news of a lunar eclipse 20,000 times over the full moon, astronomers began digging further. Dr Christopher Onken of the Australian National University examined the record of the Widefield Skymapper Telescope in Australia.
Onken said in an emailed statement, “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I came across a small object I saw moving across the images taken by Skymapper.” Skymapper images just before the 2018 LA hit the atmosphere with a record of Botswana security cameras, establishing its path with great accuracy. Astronomers simply did not know where to find the fragments – including those still recovered around the Kalahari Desert in Botswana – but made it possible to identify the source of the 2018 LA.
70 scientists from 42 institutes in meteorological and planetary sciences have teamed up to reconstruct the 2018 LA orbit and analyze the fragments they found. Putting these together, they conclude that 2018 has spent 22 million years since the LA Vesta crashed – which was inspected by NASA’s Dawn investigation in 2011-12. The story of the very unlikely is that the 2018 LA threw a vestedoid, a group of asteroids that they themselves are the product of the first Vesta collision.
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