After asteroid hits Earth, NASA makes THIS claim

An asteroid hit Earth, but worryingly, NASA discovered it just two hours before it crashed. Find out what it tells about NASA’s planetary defense system

Shockingly, an asteroid hit Earth last week. The news itself isn’t all that shocking, as many pebble-sized asteroids are pulled by Earth’s gravity and burn up in the atmosphere. What was really surprising is that NASA was able to detect the asteroid just two hours before it crashed into Earth. Worryingly, this wouldn’t have given NASA time to react or stop the asteroid. On the other hand, the entire incident weaves a remarkable story of an astronomer’s detection skills and luck and the technological prowess of an important tool in NASA’s planetary defense system called Scout. And if scientists are to be believed, it shows unprecedented progress in preparing Earth for a potentially catastrophic asteroid attack. Yes, unprecedented.

An astronomer was the linchpin of the mission

Krisztian Sarneczky looked at the stars at the Konkoly Observatory near Budapest on March 11. As he gazed across the night sky, he searched for unidentified objects. And suddenly he came across a dimly lit object that was moving at an intriguingly fast pace. Within half an hour, he was sure that the asteroid was on its way to Earth. But instead of being scared, he was ecstatic. It was mainly because the size of the asteroid, about six feet, rendered it harmless. But also because he had just discovered a new near-earth object (NEO). “I have often dreamed of such a discovery, but it seemed impossible,” he said told the New York Times.

Within the hour of detecting the asteroid later named EB5 in 2022, he shared his findings and data with NASA. This is where the Scout system comes in.

NASA Scout’s Proficiency in Planetary Defense System

Scout is software that uses astronomers’ data and observations when reporting near-Earth objects and finds out approximately where and when their impact might occur. It was developed and launched in 2017 by Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Usually, it can take several days to confirm the identity of a new asteroid. But when an asteroid quietly stalks Earth like EB5 did in 2022, Earth may not have a few days to respond. Fortunately, this asteroid was small, but if it were even 100 meters wide, it would have been a disaster for humanity.

That’s why, after receiving the information from Sarneczky, Scout quickly analyzed the data and predicted not only when it would crash, but also where it would hit Earth. The asteroid followed the forecast, hitting Earth near the east coast of Greenland on March 11 at 5:23 p.m. Eastern Time (2:53 AM IST, March 12).

Going forward, this shows how NASA’s planetary defense systems have the ability to analyze and predict an asteroid’s path even in the short term. It also means that if the asteroid was larger, NASA would be able to calculate its trajectory and send alerts to the appropriate authorities.

Arun Agarwal
I am Arun Agarwal, a passionate blogger and gamer. I love to share my thoughts on games and technology through blog posts. I’m also an avid reader of books about history, philosophy, science-fiction, and other genres as well as an anime fan. I like reading books that give me new perspectives or help me think differently about the world around us.