It happens more often than you might think – asteroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere about once a month. Usually we have no idea they are coming until they burn up in the Earth’s Atmosphere. Often they are destroyed before they impact or, as the earth’s surface is mostly water and has vast swaths of unpopulated land, they impact where no one is around to bear witness. This past week however was a bit of an exception as the asteroid was spotted before it entered the atmosphere and tracked all the way until it exploded in the atmosphere; though some pieces may have broken off leaving meteorites which touched down near Namibia or Botswana.
As the asteroid entered the atmosphere it is likely it did so at roughly 54,000 km/h and released energy equivalent to a half-kiloton of TNT (1/6th the amount of the Halifax explosion) and left a blazing trail in the sky. Bright enough that even in the noonday sun was capable of being captured on video like the example below.
Video: Meteor 2018 LA (ZLAF9B2)seen from farm between Ottosdal and Hartebeesfontein North West South Africa
By: barend swanepoel
It is just a reminder that while scientists claim over 90% of near-Earth objects larger than 1 kilometer have been found, there are plenty of smaller ones that we do not know about and that they touch our planet far more often than most of us would imagine.