DR. SKY BLOG

There was almost no warning for Iceland before asteroid exploded in the skies

Mar 16, 2022, 2:00 PM
The Thufa hill in Reykjavik, Iceland, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. (AP Photo, File/Frank Augstein)...
The Thufa hill in Reykjavik, Iceland, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. (AP Photo, File/Frank Augstein)
(AP Photo, File/Frank Augstein)

Like a bolt out of the blue, a small asteroid the size of a refrigerator exploded over Iceland last Friday.

While this may not be major news to many out there, the fact that this object was discovered only two hours before it lit up the skies there and over southern Greenland shows us the importance of having better tracking of objects like this.

Astronomers in Hungary captured this tiny interloper to our skies with a large tracking telescope with amazing resolution.

The object is known as asteroid 2022 EB5 and has a most interesting story.

This is only the fifth asteroid that has been discovered just before it exploded or impacted the Earth with such a short notice.

The others in history are the following:

• Asteroid 2008 TC3 impacted the African desert on Oct. 7, 2008. It was thought to be 13 feet in diameter.

• Asteroid 2014 AA impacted the atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean near Venezuela on Jan. 2, 2014. It was thought to be 10 feet in diameter.

• Asteroid 2018 LA impacted South Africa on June 2, 2018. It was thought to have been around 10 feet in diameter.

• Asteroid 2019 MO impacted off the coast of Puerto Rico, on June 22, 2019. It was thought to be around 10 feet in diameter too.

Here is a link to explain more on these tiny but powerful asteroids.

With bigger and better telescopes, we are seeing more objects at much closer distances, but even these early detections may not be enough to prevent action to help evacuate areas which may be in the path of these space rocks.

Here is one major telescope which will be part of the detection process.

The explosion of the small asteroid was actually detected by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organizations Infrasound stations in Greenland and Norway.

The atmospheric explosion may have been as powerful as two kilotons!

More on the CTBTO.

The threat of small asteroidlike bodies coming close to Earth and the potential for impact is a major concern for the planet.

There are many ideas as to how to deflect or even destroy objects like this, as NASA will soon be testing a concept of asteroid deflection with the DART mission. This is known as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test.

The DART mission will introduce an impactor to hit the small “moon” of the binary asteroid known as Didymos. The summary of the mission is to impact the small satellite asteroid known as Dimorphos, which is around 520 feet in diameter and try to see how an impact can deflect the small asteroid.

This would be a future technology, on a large or small scale, to lessen the threat of near Earth asteroids. This is just one concept in place at this time.

Here are the details on the DART mission.

The threat of asteroids is real and we seek answers to this possible Earth-changing phenomenon.

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

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There was almost no warning for Iceland before asteroid exploded in the skies