Scientists Discover First Asteroid of 2014 During Tail End of New Year’s Festivities

First asteroid of 2014 strikes new year's day

It turns out the Ball wasn’t the only thing to drop on New Year’s Day 2014. Scientists of the Catalina Sky Survey operating near Tucson, Ariz. discovered the first asteroid of 2014 late on January 1. The very small 6- to 9-foot asteroid, named 2014 AA, was first spotted over the mid-Atlantic Ocean. After entering Earth’s atmosphere it’s believed that the asteroid impacted waters in the Caribbean. Above you can see an animation of the Catalina Sky Survey’s discovery images.

Using data collected from infrasound stations, which record ultra-low-frequency sound waves to monitor the location of atmospheric explosions, scientists were able to estimate the impact location of the asteroid as just east of Central America at 11.7 degrees north latitude, 319.7 degrees latitude on January 1, 2014 at 11:02 p.m. EST (as seen below). The scientists allow for a degree of error of a few hundred miles in location and tens of minutes in time.

estimated impact locations for asteroid 2014 AA

It’s believed that 2014 AA orbited between 0.9 and 1.3 astronomical units from the sun for about 1.2 years before impacting Earth. Below check out a diagram of the asteroid’s final hours of trajectory.

impacting trajectory of asteroid 2014 AA

According to NASA, about a billion near-Earth objects of roughly 2014 AA’s size are currently in orbit, and it’s typical for several to impact Earth each year.

What were you doing when Asteroid 2014 AA struck?

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