Newly discovered asteroid "2014 AA", approximately 2 - 4 meters in diameter, burned in our atmosphere around 05:00 UTC today. JPL's Steve Chesley noted that impact locations are widely distributed, most likely falling on an arc extending from Central America to East Africa, with a best-fit location just off the coast of West Africa. It is unlikely that it survived atmospheric entry intact.
There was never any real danger from this small object but it is interesting for two reasons.
Asteroid 2014 AA was the first discovered asteroid this year and it is the second time in history that an asteroid was identified and tracked before its impact with Earth. Prior to 2014 AA, we managed to identify 2008 TC3, which burned up over Sudan in Africa in 2008. Like 2014 AA, that one was also discovered only a day before it burned up in our atmosphere.
2014 AA was discovered by the Mount Lemmon Survey on the night of January 1, 2014 as 19th-magnitude object. Detection software then reported the object to the IAU's Minor Planet Center. The track of observations on the object allowed only an uncertain orbit to be calculated.
This plot shows the range of possible locations where the small asteroid 2014 AA struck Earth's atmosphere early on January 2, 2014. Image credit: Bill Gray / Project Pluto
22014 AA orbit diagram. Image credit: SSD / JPL
- More on 2014 AA at Minor planet center: MPEC 2014-A02 : 2014 AA
In is interesting to mention that on December 26 and 27, 2013 two massive fireballs were reported over Minnesota and Midwest (USA):
Security camera video on December 26 in North Liberty, Iowa. Video courtesy: City of North Liberty
"The AMS has now received 1464 reports which makes this [dec 26] event the most widely reported fireball occurrence since the fireball list was resurrected back in 2005.
Witnessed described a fireball as bright as the Sun that fragmented into many parts occurring near 5:45pm CST on Thursday evening December 26th. Several witnesses reported sonic effects associated with the meteors including at least three reports of delayed booms.
Below is an estimated trajectory of the fireball based on witness reports based on two different algorithms. (RA: 205.72714158 / 13:42 – DEC: -2.72008690)"
AMS Event #3434-2013 Trajectories. Image credit: AMS
Featured image: Bill Gray / Project Pluto