Asteroids are making big news in 2022. Just two weeks after asteroid 2022 EB5 crashed into the ocean off Norway’s Jan Mayen Island another space rock was spotted just a few hours before it could have struck Earth.
In the end asteroid Sar2594 (now officially called 2022 FD1) and classed as a “near-Earth object,” or NEO) grazed Earth’s atmosphere at 08:10 UTC on March 25, 2022 and passed through Earth’s mighty shadow in space as it cruised over the South Pacific Ocean.
The result was a total eclipse of 2022 FD1, but it could have been serious.
Although no bigger than six feet/four meters in diameter, 2022 FD1 passed within just 5,400 miles/8,700 kilometers of Earth. That’s closer than many orbiting satellites.
In fact, it was the 13th closest approach of a NEO ever recorded by NASA.
Remarkably this asteroid was discovered by the same astronomer that found 2022 EB5 a few weeks ago just hours before its impact. Krisztián Sarneczky at the Piszkéstető Observatory in northern Hungary observed it on March 24, 2022 and reported it to the Minor Planet Center.
NASA’s “Scout” impact hazard assessment system then calculated its trajectory. Scout is part of NASA’s planetary defense system that also includes the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) and NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
Very small asteroids like 2022 FD1—probably the smallest known asteroid so far—get bright enough to see in the night sky only a couple of hours before they either strike Earth’s atmosphere or make their closest approach, if at all.
NASA expects one the size of 2022 FD1 about every 10 months, so that fact that it appeared just two weeks after 2022 EB5 actually struck Earth is a concern, right? Yes, but it’s also proof that our planetary defense system is now able to find smaller and smaller incoming asteroids as it gets more and more sophisticated.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.