Most are found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but sometimes some could get jostled from the orbit, posing a danger to Earth.
Scientists determined the asteroid was headed directly for Earth, but because it measured just 6 feet across, scientists knew it would quickly disintegrate in Earth's atmosphere. Here's how to know for sure!
Trajectory path of ZLAF9B2 (2018 LA) plotted across Oceania, the Indian Ocean and Africa.
Astronomers need long-term data to accurately determine the trajectory of asteroids and, as 2018 LA had just been identified, they didn't have much to go on. However, the CAS clarified that the larger asteroids reflect more sunlight, so usually the medium and large ones can be detected earlier.
Asteroids Are big debris left over from the creation of the solar system.
Rarely these smaller space rocks can cause issues, such as was the case in Russian Federation a few years back, but they typically land in the ocean or in rural regions.
The Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russian Federation in 2013 is proof of this, shattering windows and injuring more than 1,600 people.
Preliminary data indicates that asteroid 2018 LA entered the air at approximately 15 kilometers/second (or even 54,000 km/h) and released energy equivalent to some half-kiloton of TNT. Expert Geoff Notkin tells us how!
"The discovery of asteroid 2018 LA is only the third time that an asteroid has been discovered to be on an impact trajectory", said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Only two other instances come to mind, according to JPL.
The first event of this kind was the impact of asteroid 2008 TC3, which lit up the predawn sky above Northern Sudan on October 7, 2008.
The first in 2008 was detected 19 hours ahead of impact, and the second was detected a few hours ahead in 2014.
The second event occurred January 1, 2014, when the asteroid 2014 AA was spotted just a few hours before it fell over the Atlantic Ocean. The same asteroid hunter, Richard Kowalski, made all three discoveries.