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Asteroids: Fireball seen crossing over USA skies
Asteroids are mostly known for passing by Earth, but there have been times when some space rocks, especially very small ones, go straight for the planet only to end up burning upon contact with the atmosphere. One such incident happened when residents in four states in the US were able to witness a fireball crossing over their skies.
Last week, residents from Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan were able to catch a fireball shooting through the night skies. Residents also reported the sighting to the International Meteor Organization, one user recalling how it was green and emitted white sparks as it flew over. Another user shared how the fireball was so bright, it could still be seen even as all the lights at home are on.
Asteroids and meteors that head directly into Earth produce a bright flash when it meets the atmosphere. However, because of these sightings, this has prompted space agencies to keep a closer watch on what happens in the skies, especially if asteroids much larger than the fireballs that would blow up, enter the planet. Fortunately, the chances of a much bigger asteroid crashing into Earth are very small, but agencies are already in the process of coming up with ways to protect Earth from major asteroid collisions.
Massive asteroids that are classified as potentially hazardous can potentially cause a global catastrophe, setting off a chain reaction in the form of natural disasters like tsunamis and earthquakes. Asteroids that are still big yet not classified as potentially hazardous, would likely only cause damage to the local area it crashes into, and experts predict that asteroids, in general, will most likely hit water rather than land.
Meanwhile, NASA has revealed that an asteroid known as 2011 ES4 will be passing by Earth next week. It measures 30 meters in diameter, equivalent to a double-decker bus. The agency revealed that it will be Earthbound at a speed of 29,500 kilometers per hour.
Contrary to many other asteroids, ES4 will be approaching at a much closer distance when it approaches Earth. ES4 will be as far as 0.3 lunar distance or 71,000 miles, much closer than the distance between the Moon and Earth.