An asteroid hit Earth right after being spotted by telescope this week
A small, harmless space rock turned into a fireball in our atmosphere. What's unusual is that astronomers saw it beforehand.
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An asteroid the size of a refrigerator was spotted by telescopes in Hawaii on Saturday, just before it collided with Earth's atmosphere and burned as a fireball in the sky due south of Puerto Rico. The harmless space rock, officially named 2019 MO, never had a chance of making it to the ground or doing much damage, as it was only about a tenth the size of the bolide that exploded in the atmosphere over Russia in 2013.
You can see the fireball flash in imagery from NOAA/NASA satellites below:
What's most interesting about 2019 MO, though, is the fact that it was spotted by telescopes beforehand. That's only happened four times in history, according to Italian amateur astronomer Ernesto Guido.
Of course, the same-day notice provided in the case of 2019 MO wouldn't be too helpful in making preparations if it were a much bigger asteroid smacking into the sky. Fortunately NASA and other agencies have mandated goals to work toward tracking as many of the biggest rocks out there as possible.
Watch this: How NASA's DART could save the planet from a killer asteroid