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Small Asteroid Detected Before Entering Earth’s Atmosphere Monday

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Small Asteroid Detected Before Entering Earth’s Atmosphere Monday

A rare event occurred in Europe in the early morning hours Monday when an asteroid was detected before even entering the earth’s atmosphere.

Dr. Steve Robinson is Tennessee Tech’s Physics and Astronomy Chair. He said the event is significant due to the size of the asteroid itself.

“It’s because it’s so small,” Robinson said. “If you imagine a thing that’s a meter across that’s not very big when it’s thousands of miles away. And of course, it gets to hundreds of miles away by the time it gets close to use. but still, if you think about something that’s one meter across and hundreds of miles away, that’s very difficult to see.”

Robinson said as we move forward we can expect to see more of these types of events, but not because they are happening more often. He said that will be because we now are able to detect them before they happen.

Robinson said he believes these types of events are so exciting because of the human fascination with the night sky. He said from ancient civilization to modern society, events like shooting stars and asteroids tend to spark public intrigue.

“We see the night sky as something that just stays pretty stable and when something unusual happens in the night sky, ancient civilizations would have taken that has an omen of some kind whether good or bad,” Robinson said. “And I think to a certain extent that has been passed down to us that feeling of intrigue. That something new has appeared in the sky like a comet or an asteroid and that fascinates us, that the sky is not completely the same all the time.”

Robinson said although we are able to detect asteroids entering the atmosphere, they typically will burn up before they have any potential of causing harm.


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