With asteroids hurtling through the atmosphere, this marks the first time in 2014 that Earth is pummeled by space rock. No evidence yet of Klendathu origins or top-secret NASA intervention.
While you were sleeping off some poor New Years Eve celebration choices on the morning of January 1, far more alert minds at the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz., began tracking an asteroid some 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size on an impact trajectory with Earth.
Dubbed 2014 AA, this first asteroid discovery of 2014 entered Earth’s atmosphere January 1 at 11:02 p.m. EST over the mid-Atlantic Ocean (approximately 11.7 degrees north latitude, 319.7 degrees latitude) and probably broke up.
As NASA reported:
It is unlikely asteroid 2014 AA would have survived atmospheric entry intact, as it was comparable in size to asteroid 2008 TC3, which was about 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size. 2008 TC3 completely broke up over northern Sudan in October 2008. Asteroid 2008 TC3 is the only other example of an object discovered just prior to hitting Earth. So far, there have been a few weak signals collected from infrasound stations in that region of the world that are being analyzed to see if they could be correlated to the atmospheric entry of 2014 AA.
The high-precision astrometry data and rapid follow-up observations provided by the Catalina Sky Survey team made it possible for orbit analysts from NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to determine possible Earth impact locations. Before that, and based upon the Catalina Sky Survey observations, Steve Chesley of JPL produced a plot of the possible impact locations for asteroid 2014 AA.
While it would be nice to think some Harry Stamper-like hero and a motley crew of roughnecks were responsible for the demise of 2014 AA, the space rock’s mysterious high-altitude disintegration smacks of shoddy work by giant bugs bent on exterminating mankind. Sadly, we’ll never know the truth.