Small Asteroid Lit Up Sky Over Sudan

Impact of Asteroid 2008 TC3 Confirmed Confirmation has been received that the asteroid impact fireball occurred at the predicted time and place. The energy recorded was estimated to be 0.9 to 1.0 kT of TNT and the time of detection was 02:45:45 on October 7 (Greenwich Standard Time). More details on this detection will be forthcoming. An additional confirmation was apparently reported by a KLM airliner as reported by Peter Brown (University of Western Ontario, Canada), a preliminary examination of infrasound stations nearest to the predicted impact point shows that at least one station recorded the event. These measurements are consistent with the predicted time and place of the atmospheric impact and indicate an estimated energy of 1.1 – 2.1 kT of TNT.

WASHINGTON(RUSHPRNEWS)10/07/2008 — An asteroid measuring several feet in diameter is expected to enter the atmosphere over northern Sudan before dawn Tuesday, setting off a potentially brilliant natural fireworks display.

It is unlikely any sizable fragments will survive the fiery passage through Earth’s atmosphere. The event is expected to occur at 5:46 a.m. local time (10:46 p.m. EDT Monday).

“We estimate objects this size enter Earth’s atmosphere once every few months,” said Don Yeomans of the Near-Earth Object Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “The unique aspect of this event is that it is the first time we have observed an impacting object during its final approach.”

The small space rock, designated 2008 TC3, will be traveling on an eastward trajectory that will carry it toward the Red Sea.

“Observers in the region could be in for quite a show,” Yeomans said. “When the object enters the atmosphere, it could become an extremely bright fireball.”

The small space rock first was observed by the Mount Lemon telescope of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey early Monday. NASA detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth. The Near Earth Object Observation Program, commonly called “Spaceguard,” plots the orbits of these objects to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

For more information, visit:

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington                              
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Veronica McGregor
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
818-354-9452
veronica.c.mcgregor@jpl.nasa.gov