London, July 7 (IANS) An international team of scientists has recovered in Botswana a fragment of an asteroid that was detected in space just eight hours before hitting Earth on June 2.
Asteroid 2018 LA was detected in space by the Catalina Sky Survey, operated by the University of Arizona in the US and sponsored by NASA as part of its Planetary Defence mission.
A team of experts from Botswana, South Africa, Finland and the US recovered a fresh meteorite, determined to be one of the fragments of asteroid 2018 LA, in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) on June 23, the University of Helsinki in Finland said in a statement on Friday.
When the asteroid collided with Earth earlier last month, it 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.
“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,” the university statement added.
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).
Scientists believe that the find is important for to reasons. It has enormous scientific value and it allows to better calibrate the so-called “Earth Defense” against impacting asteroids.
The search for more fragments of the asteroid continues, the university said.