Astronomer Christian Sarnecki, using a telescope at the Pisquesteto Observatory, discovered the asteroid 2022 EB5 just two hours before it hit our planet. Calculations showed that the space rock had a 100% chance of falling north of Iceland.
Fortunately, the asteroid was very small, about a meter in diameter – space bodies of this size are guaranteed to burn up in the atmosphere. Since 2008, this is already the fifth cosmic body discovered shortly before the collision, which indicates the progress of the technology of astronomical observations.
Although EB5 was tiny, infrasound detectors picked up a likely impact, which the ESA said suggested a release of energy equivalent to a magnitude 4 earthquake. As early warning systems for approaching space bodies improve, it will be possible to alert communities to possible risks and give them the opportunity to prepare. As the example of the Chelyabinsk meteorite in 2013 shows, even small asteroids can cause significant damage to infrastructure.
“It is unfortunately not possible to find the remnants of EB5 – no conclusive visual or video footage of the corresponding fireball has been found at this time, likely due to the remoteness of the impact site,” the ESA said.
Meanwhile, in late 2021, NASA launched the DART asteroid deflection test mission to see if they could push a dangerous asteroid away from Earth if needed in the future.