A fragment from an asteroid, that collided with Earth last month and burst into flames seconds after entering the atmosphere over Botswana, has been discovered in the Kalahari Game Reserve by an international team of scientists. The meteorite is one of the fragments of asteroid 2018 LA which collided with Earth on June 2 and turned into a meteor fireball that detonated over Botswana a few seconds after entering the atmosphere. The incident was witnessed by a number of spectators in Botswana and neighbouring countries and was captured on numerous security cameras. Asteroid 2018 LA was detected in space eight hours before hitting Earth. It was detected by the Catalina Sky Survey, operated by the University of Arizona and sponsored by NASA as part of its Planetary Defence mission. This is the third time in history that an asteroid inbound to hit Earth was detected early and only the second time that fragments were recovered.
After disruption, the asteroid fragments were blown by the wind while falling down, scattering over a wide area. Calculations of the landing area were done independently by a US-based group headed by Peter Jenniskens, a subject expert of the NASA-sponsored SETI Institute in California, as well as Esko Lyytinen and Jarmo Moilanen of the Finnish Fireball Network (FFN). The first meteorite was found after five days of walking and scouring around by geoscientists.
The importance of the find is two-fold: It has enormous scientific value and it allows to better calibrate the so-called “Earth Defense” against impacting asteroids. Researchers gathered security surveillance videos in Rakops and Maun, to get better constraints on the position and altitude of the fireball’s explosion. The search for more fragments of the meteorite continues.
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