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Small asteroid attacks Africa only hours after it was discovered

    Abdulaziz Sobh
    By Abdulaziz Sobh

    Categories: Science

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    A meteor lit up the sky over Botswana, Africa, early in the afternoon on Saturday. Scientists discovered the six-foot-wide asteroid just hours before it reached Earth.
    NASA tracks 90 percent of near-Earth objects that are more than 150 meters (~ 460 feet) in diameter, which means many of the smaller ones are lost until they are close. This most recent rock, called 2018 LA, was discovered on June 2 by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. At that point, the asteroid was almost as close as the moon, according to a statement. The researchers realized that it was in the process of colliding with the Earth and could predict some locations in a large swathe of the planet's surface. Follow-up observations allowed astronomers to identify a probable collision with southern Africa.
    A rock entered the atmosphere traveling around 38,000 miles per hour at 6:44 pm Botswana time, creating a fireball, aligning with the predictions.
    This rock, like all the small asteroids that hit or fly close to Earth shortly after its detection, confirms what we always say about asteroids. When scientists talk about "potentially dangerous" asteroids, they are referring to the biggest ones that have the opportunity to get to Earth over time, but not in the foreseeable future. Asteroids that impact the Earth, such as 2018 LA, normally occur with little or no warning.
    These smaller events often hit remote areas or do no harm. But sometimes they can pack a blow, like Chelyabinsk's meteor.

    Of course, the odds of being damaged by a meteorite are extremely low, according to National Geographic. But if you plan on making any calls to your space representatives today, it may be worthwhile to increase funding for asteroid tracking.