First asteroid of 2014 hits Earth

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

nasa prediction
The blue line shows where NASA researchers believe the asteroid could’ve landed. The red dot shows the likeliest landing region, using Catalina Sky Survey data.

In the early hours of Wednesday, January 1, a team from the Catalina Sky Survey discovered the year’s first asteroid, called 2014 AA. At a mere 6-9 feet long, it crossed over into the Earth’s atmosphere 21 hours after discovery, somewhere over the mid-Atlantic Ocean where it probably broke into several tiny pieces.

Researchers from NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory created a pictograph image predicting possible landing sites for the asteroid. After analyzing the detailed data provided by the Catalina Sky Survey, however, NASA researcher Steve Chesley was able to produce a more accurate sketch of where the car-sized rock may have landed.

According to the results, the asteroid most likely ended up somewhere within the area predicted by the scientists. “The most likely impact location of the object was just off the coast of West Africa at about 6 p.m. PST (9 p.m. EST) Jan. 1,” wrote NASA officials in a press release Thursday.

Featured image courtesy of Leonard Wikberg III. Image of asteroid impact mapping courtesy of NASA/JPL