“Chance of Impact 100%” – Fifth Asteroid Ever Discovered Before Impact

Klet Observatory Sees Asteroid 2022 EB5

Klet Observatory sees asteroid 2022 EB5, 13 minutes before impact. Credit: ESA

A large asteroid has been observed in space before hitting Earth.  It’s the fifth known impactor to be detected before it hits the ground and the first from Europe. Signals from the impact in Iceland and Greenland were recorded and indicated an energy release comparable to a magnitude 4.0 earthquake. All five asteroids that were spotted before impact were found after 2008, demonstrating how far asteroid detection technology has progressed in recent years.

The majority of asteroids that have collided with Earth were detected many years, if not millions, after the occurrence. The proof? Around 200 documented craters scar the Earth’s surface, providing a powerful tale about how catastrophic impacts with ancient space objects have radically impacted our planet and life on it. We seldom find an asteroid before it impacts — five times in human history, to be exact.

Warning of certain impact

Using the 60cm Schmidt telescope at the Piszkésteto observatory in Hungary, astronomer Krisztián Sárneczky found a bright and fast-moving new object in the sky at 19:24 UTC on March 11, 2022. He made four observations in short succession and transmitted his results to the Minor Planet Center (MPC) 14 minutes later, originally naming the object ‘Sar2593.’

Predicted Asteroid Impact Point and Time


Predicted impact point and time computed by ESA’s imminent impactor alert system “Meerkat” at 20:25 UTC, with the initial 14 observations. The impact location was subsequently refined with more observations and proved correct. Credit: ESA

The findings were immediately published and utilized by automated impact assessment systems all across the globe to determine the likelihood of an effect: it looked improbable at the time, with a probability of less than 1%.

Krisztián continued to watch the object following its discovery, making a total of 10 observations and sending them to the MPC. These, on the other hand, resulted in a very different situation. Based on the cumulative observations, ESA’s “Meerkat” monitoring system prompted an alarm to the Agency’s Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre (NEOCC) almost precisely an hour after it was spotted at 20:25 UTC.

Europe's Planetary Defenders

A new home for Planetary Defence in Europe. Credit: ESA

The probability of an impact had increased to 100 percent, and it would occur in less than an hour, between 21:21 and 21:25 UTC. The impact site of the new item was already predictable to the nearest thousand kilometers and was projected to be only a few hundred kilometers north of Iceland.

Rapid response to a speedy space rock

In response to ESA’s Meerkat alert and others like it, professional and amateur observers across Europe and Asia quickly started to observe the imminent impactor. Finding it was extremely challenging since the object was already very close (about 1/7th the distance to the Moon) and moving rapidly in the sky.

Hunt for Dangerous Asteroids Infographic

Asteroid danger explained. Credit: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Another observatory – Kysuce, Slovakia – soon reported its successful observations, together with many more detections from the original discoverer. With this new data added to the mix, the location of the asteroid impact could be pinpointed even more precisely: the asteroid was going to enter the upper layers of our atmosphere roughly 140 km south of the Jan Mayen island at 21:22:42 UTC – less than two hours after being discovered.

From its observed brightness, the object appeared to be very small. At roughly a meter in diameter it posed no threat to Earth, as at this size it would entirely burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Shortly after the expected time of impact the Minor Planet Center designated the asteroid the title “2022 EB5,” becoming just the fifth known impactor observed in space before hitting our planet, and the first discovered from Europe.

Vatnajokull Glacier, Iceland

Vatnajokull glacier, Iceland. The remote location near where asteroid 2022 EB5 struck, made direct observations difficult. Credit: K. Cardon

Unfortunately, no conclusive visual or video detections of the corresponding fireball have been located at present, likely due to the remoteness of the impact location.

Nevertheless, there is independent evidence that the impact did in fact occur thanks to the international network of infrasound detectors. Signals from the impact were detected from Iceland and Greenland, suggesting an energy release equivalent to roughly a magnitude 4.0 earthquake.

Why only the fifth?

It is estimated that between 40 and 100 tonnes of space material strike Earth every day, most in the form of very small particles. Larger objects, similar in size to 2022 EB5 are expected to strike roughly ten times per year. So why have only five asteroids been detected before impact?

Cosmic Fireball

Cosmic caller goes out with a bang. A foreign body crashed to Earth causing a cascade of bright light to trail through the sky in 2020. Credit: Chris Small

The news here is rather positive. Large asteroids, kilometers in diameter, are easier to spot. Although they could do immense damage, they are thankfully relatively rare. We now know where the vast majority of these are and can say for certain that they are safe, at least for the next hundred years. The international community continues to seek out every last one.

Smaller asteroids are far more common and strike Earth much more frequently, but their impact is small and they’re much harder to spot. All five asteroids, spotted before impact, were found since 2008, illustrating how much asteroid observation technologies have improved in the last years.

Many more to come

More dedicated sky scanning telescopes are in the pipeline, including ESA’s first state-of-the-art Flyeye telescope soon to be constructed in Monte Mufara, Italy. The new, European telescope will split each image into 16 smaller subimages, expanding its overall field of view – similar to the technique exploited by a fly’s compound eye.

Flyeye Telescope

As part of the global effort to hunt out risky celestial objects such as asteroids and comets, ESA is developing an automated telescope for nightly sky surveys. This telescope is the first in a future network that would completely scan the sky and automatically identify possible new near-Earth objects, or NEOs, for follow up and later checking by human researchers.
The telescope, nicknamed ‘Flyeye’, splits the image into 16 smaller subimages to expand the field of view, similar to the technique exploited by a fly’s compound eye. Credit: ESA/A. Baker

“The extremely wide field of the new telescopes will allow us to cover a large area of the sky in just one night,” says Detlef Koschny, ESA’s acting Head of Planetary Defence.

“This will reduce the chance that we miss any interesting object.”

As our ability to predict asteroid impacts improves, so will our preparation. For medium-sized impacts that can create airbursts in the sky, this means the chance to warn people to stay away from windows that could break in the explosion. For larger objects, this means having the chance to prepare asteroid deflection missions to prevent impact altogether.

For more on this story, see Small Asteroid Strikes Earth’s Atmosphere – Discovered Just Two Hours Before Impact.

35 Comments on "“Chance of Impact 100%” – Fifth Asteroid Ever Discovered Before Impact"

  1. Very interesting.

    Risk management of catastrophic event risk, requires plans to be put in place in case the black swan event with very low probability occurs , to ensure survival of all existing flora and fauna. One seed bank in Frozen Norway is a start. May need others circling the planet. Also a modern day Noah’s ark with sperm bank and eggs which can restart evolution , from current state.

    All knowledge till date should be safely stored and available and retrievable in case of such a catastrophic event.

    Planning proactively is wise.

    Prevention of impact is best . All above is “Just in case ” prevention doesn’t work.

    By the way one hundred years is like the blink of an eye on Universe time

    Views expressed are personal and not binding on anyone.

  2. If it hits us that is life.Have a coffee loser

  3. Roger Rendzak | March 25, 2022 at 6:40 am | Reply

    Ok, ‘pre-observing’ is different than ‘deflecting’!! What’s going to happen in 2029, with the BIG ONE?? You know, the one that skirted by, back in 1999 (the so-called Potato, asteroid). No one (except for the scientific, community, of which they aren’t advising the public, about) seems to have knowledge of it’s arrival. It has a 10% chance of impacting. I have been keeping track of it, for the past 10, years.

  4. It’s not asteroid impacts that humanity needs to be concerned with.
    Abrupt exponential climate change will kill the human race first…and in the near term.
    The climate is unraveling at an alarming rate now, tipping points have been breached, and humanity has maybe 2-3 years left.

    • Justin Krupa | March 26, 2022 at 6:22 am | Reply

      That would certainly be perfect timing, given the fact that most of the world is in full blown moral decay. It would be an amazing thing to see the end of humanity in our lifetime!! I fully support it! I hope everyone turns to God and is ready for the biggest change the universe has ever seen!!

    • Why are yiu spreading fear with your miscalculation?

  5. Erskien Lenier | March 25, 2022 at 1:32 pm | Reply

    How could most of kilometer plus sized potential impactors already be spotted if Earth is being dragged across and around by the sun hurtling at close to 1 million miles per hour? How could we even have a hope of spotting anything that could come at us from any direction at even millions of miles per hour?

  6. I agree with Robert. According to Jem Bendell tho, we have maybe 20 to 40 years left. A huge asteroid would be a blessing. Personally I don’t want to know it’s coming.

  7. Thomas Palmer | March 25, 2022 at 3:35 pm | Reply

    Exponential climate change is our most urgent priority, and it is almost too late to save humanity at the rate we are addressing it so far.
    But nuclear Armageddon is just as likely a prospect given the sabre-rattling of madman Putin in Russia

  8. When you realize that we aren’t flying through an infinite vacuum of nothing cruising through the galaxy dodging asteroids and instead Earth is stationary and flat and you have been brainwashed your entire lives by evil satanic piles of s***, articles like this just crack you up instead of what they are designed to do, scare you and continue to indoctrinate you further in order to make you feel insignificant and steal God from you, because let me let you in on a little secret, they are all satanists.

    • You’re just as brainwashed too.

      I wish a f***ing asteroid would take us all out already. What a waste of time and energy this is, every idiot human I’m forced to interact with makes me wish for a bigger asteroid.

    • Brian, please prove to me that the world is flat. Please prove to me that “they” are all satanists. If a re-education needs to happen, then I need facts to back it up.

    • Where did you go to school the earth is flat, get educated bud go back to school

      • Justin Krupa | March 26, 2022 at 6:33 am | Reply

        He used the term “realize” ambiguously, so far as to say when you realize gravity isn’t real and we’re all just going to die at midnight when the clock runs out according to AOC and her cow fart theories. Realize, meaning they have made it real, to at least YOU. It is not pure reality, it is SKEWED MANUFACTURED reality, only to those who watch the wrong lens. He did not mean REALIZE in the classic form. Sorry if this is abrupt but people can and do REALIZE (MAKE REAL) what they want, but only in their minds. Any further questions on the art of realizing?

    • The truth is what it is, not what we think it is or want to believe out of ignorance and superstition. God and satan are the constructs of a human mind, god because he is overwhelmed by his own mortality, and satan because you need to blame someone for all the bad things in the world.

    • This is so 2000, maybe 2010. Don’t you know you have vaccines to fight against now? Get with the times, man!

    • Banks (sts88) | March 27, 2022 at 5:03 pm | Reply

      I’m pretty smart on this s*** like really f***ing smart and I’m not a satanist. Go buy a telescope And look through it and draw your observations And let me know what you see that is flat. I don’t know what World you’re living in Bryan but obviously it is not the same one I am and because because mine is round And I’ve seen it. Do the math we wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t round

  9. If its flat why dont you jump off

  10. We have approximately 4.75 years left until we’re definitely totally screwed!

  11. Round world......... | March 26, 2022 at 12:41 am | Reply

    Flat?????
    Do ppl still even entertain this idea…. Bunch of weird inbred f*cks……
    Science have proved the world Is not flat. I think ppl just say this to get a reaction from normal ppl……

  12. Many years ago people started guessing the world was round because they see the lookout tower first an then the rest of boat as it came into port. They figured out an knew it was round, just like further science proves they were correct.

  13. Come on, everyone knows the world is flat, riding on the backs of four elephants, who are standing on the back of an enormous turtle who swims us through the cosmos… This has been known for several thousand years… One sneeze from the turtle and Mankind and the world would be history.

    (Hopefully, it isn’t allergic to bull-puckies, or we’re through…)

  14. James O Brown | March 26, 2022 at 5:55 am | Reply

    Genesis 1:1 KJV “In the beginning God” He knows and all things work for His p;urpose. Either one believes God or doesn’t: believe the gospel that saves while there is time; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV.

  15. Yeah well god created fear to keep those who worshipped him in check the people made up a religious belief and then made up hell to control the population

  16. It is all very interesting😆
    Asteroids meteorites comets huge Sun flares first stage rockets satellites space stations etc., all with the potential to strike Earth and harm its inhabitants. Hurricanes tornadoes cyclones typhoons tsunamis and flooding all with the potential to change Earth and harm its inhabitants. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have a huge impact on Earth, climate change effects and can cause harm to its inhabitants. The boiling magma in the centre of the Earth is constantly shifting and expanding and having a significant affect on climate. As the Earth spins on its axis, is now on a greater (north-south, as we reference) wobble, travels around the Sun as the moon circles around the Earth and our known solar system sails throughout the Universe the body of the Earth itself is constantly pulled and twisted in every direction and is continually expanding and enlarging in diameter. The one absolute is there has been constant change and will continue to be constant change. And Earth’s inhabitants, are for some part along for the ride. Except for one factor, we also are energy and we can create and we do create. The two common Energies that we create, foolishly play around with, don’t fully understand and don’t fully realize nor appreciate the impact, are the energies of love the energies of hate. Observe around you right now, family friends neighbors associates strangers and yes World politics and you will see the use of these two Energies and the effect it has on Earth and its inhabitants. Now there’s something worth studying and researching.

  17. yowiestromberg | March 26, 2022 at 3:20 pm | Reply

    I think the most inspiring part of reading this article is reading all the comments… from the serious to the outrageous…they all reminded me of the spectacular human spirit… I personally believe we all are a spark of God we have such potential for the greatness but I fear we have collectively fell short …so short that we may be erased … our life here is serious business and we f*** it up .. love is it so simple

  18. After reading the comments and giving them some thought. I came to a conclusion. That the people making the comments are . . . Aa,Ha,Ha,Ha, that humanity would have benefited if they hadn’t survived childbirth. Wow,What a waste of oxygen

  19. After reading the comments and giving them some thought. I came to a conclusion. That some of the people making the comments are . . . Aa,Ha,Ha,Ha, well,either our education system is a complete failure or that humanity would have benefited if they hadn’t survived childbirth. Wow,What a waste of oxygen.
    P.S. Thanks for all the fish!

  20. I had no idea that so many nutters read this website. If they are so out of touch with reality, why do they read about Science and Technology?

    * The Earth is flat
    * The human race is about to be extinguished by climate change
    * Self-hating people who are glad we’re all about to die.
    * God botherers
    * The centre of the Earth is boiling and it’s expanding

    Wow!

  21. Did y’all forget about the life sustaining oxygen we breathe that’s actually toxic and slowly killing us?

    Seriously, just calm down and enjoy the ride. It will all be over soon. You’ll wake up, safe, sitting on the sofa surrounded by friends laughing because you ate the entire bag of mushrooms after they told you not to. Good sh*t huh? You won’t do that again will you?

  22. If the earth is really a sphere why do we never see meteors or comets coming up from the horizon, they always come down?!!

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