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Meteor Over Channel Was Predicted To Hit Earth Just Hours Before Impact

This is just the seventh time ever an asteroid impact has been predicted before it happened.

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Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

author

Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

Alfredo (he/him) has a PhD in Astrophysics on galaxy evolution and a Master's in Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces.

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

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Artist impression of a small meteor burning in the atmosphere

Predicting this asteroid impact demonstrates the huge advances in global asteroid detection capabilities. Image Credit: Marko Aliaksandr/Shutterstock.com

A small meteor about 1 meter (3 feet) in diameter burned up over the Channel between France and the UK in the early hours of this morning. The object, called Sar 2667, was discovered just a few hours previously and has become only the seventh asteroid impact that has been predicted to happen before hitting our planet.

The object was discovered and detected by prolific minor planet discoverer Krisztián Sárneczky, from the Konkoly Observatory in Hungary. Sárneczky has hundreds of discoveries under his belt and this is his second prediction of an asteroid that was going to impact Earth.

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The bolide burned in the atmosphere over the city of Rouen, in the north of France, famous for its cathedral loved by the impressionist artist Claude Monet. The space rock was seen in both the United Kingdom and France, as well as by people in Belgium and the Netherlands. It was in the early hours of the morning, so we're grateful to the early birds or late-night owls that took the time to film the meteor burning up in the sky.

The bolide arrives almost precisely a decade after the infamous Chelyabinsk meteor that burned up over Russia causing 1,613 injuries, luckily none of them fatal. That space rock was much larger – more like house-sized – compared to this boulder. It goes to show the improvement in prediction capabilities that have been developed over the last 10 years.

The sixth predicted object to hit Earth only happened last November and was also reported just a few hours before the impact. Like Sar 2667 it was also about a meter across and delivered some pretty images to the people awake at that time of night to spot it.

Approaches to planetary protection, like NASA's incredible DART mission last year to change the orbit of an asteroid, remain a vital part of the work of all space agencies but citizen scientists and local organizations have become major players in keeping an eye on the sky too. 


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