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Earth Atmosphere Striked by Small Asteroids

After being found only hours earlier, an asteroid smaller than a GPS satellite but flying at double the speed collided with Earth’s Atmosphere above the Arctic Ocean on Friday. This is only the fifth time in history that scientists have detected an asteroid before it collides with Earth. The asteroid, which measured 10 to 13 feet in diameter (or “half the size of a giraffe,” according to the Daily Mail), was spotted by Hungarian astronomer K. Sarneczky, who noticed the minuscule speck fluttering through his telescope.

The item erupted in a 2-kiloton explosion when it entered the Atmosphere north of Iceland a few hours later, possibly in the afternoon according to Mountain Standard Time. Other astronomers had spread the word by then, seeing the rock and pinpointing its final location. While tiny asteroids colliding with the Earth are not rare, seeing and tracking an object before it collides is.

Impacts of this scale happen at least once a month, according to Wiggins, but most go unnoticed over the ocean. Friday’s crash would have gone unnoticed if it hadn’t been for the attention of a few astronomers and scientists. In a blog entry published on Saturday, Italian astronomer Ernesto Guido detailed the small planet’s history, from discovery through dissolution.

Sarneczky, who has detected scores of similar objects, discovered the asteroid in a 0.6-meter telescope on a mountaintop in Hungary, according to Wikipedia. He then posted the item on the Near Earth Object Confirmation Page, hoping for confirmation from other observers. The object’s trajectory was subsequently estimated by astronomer Bill Gray, who predicted a collision somewhere southwest of the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen.

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