No-one from NASA witnessed an asteroid coming towards Earth and the space agency was unable to get a warning out in time beforehand. The asteroid miss was discussed this week by NASA’s ‘On a Mission’ podcast host Leslie Mullen and observer Richard Kowalski, a senior researcher at the NASA financed Catalina Sky Survey. Ms Mullen began: “Richard’s next incoming asteroid discovery was on New Year’s Day, 2014. That asteroid hit before a warning could be issued.”
The NASA scientist explained: “By the time the news had gotten out that it was going to impact, other observatories could not get official observations of it.
“I was the only observer to see this object before it hit, and the calculations did show that it probably hit the Earth.
“Well, they could triangulate where the object came down in the Atlantic, just north-east of Venezuela.
“So, unfortunately, no one witnessed this one coming in and then there are no meteorites we’re able to retrieve.
“They’re all at the bottom of the ocean.”
The comments follow NASA unveiling plans to team up with the University of Central Florida (UCF) in order to find killer asteroids.
The asteroids being targeted by NASA are ones large enough to wipe out tens of millions of people on earth.
In order to boost the mission, NASA is giving UCF $19 million – though it is thought that the hunt for NEOs will be hard.
Tony Dunn, an amateur astronomer, said 2019 RP1 “was undiscoverable prior to closest approach because it came from our daytime side, but it was picked up quickly when it entered our night sky”.
NASA estimates the rock was between 23 and 56 feet in diameter.
That makes it the same size as the rock that entered our atmosphere and exploded above Russia in 2013. causing plenty of damage.
While 2019 R91 passed without incident, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has warned the chances of an impact are more than people realise.
The NASA administrator said: “We have to make sure that people understand that this is not about Hollywood, it’s not about the movies.
“This is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know, right now, to host life – and that is the planet Earth.”