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Asteroid discovery: Rare space rock fragment is found

A meteor glowing as it is in the atmosphere of the Earth (James Thew) (iStock)/The meteroite fragment found in Botswana

(Peter Jenniskens)

Researchers have found that a part of an asteroid that is in a burning fireball as it disintegrated in south Africa last month.

Experts from Botswana, South Africa, Finland and the US found a piece of the asteroid, called 2018 LA in Botswanas Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The boulder-size asteroid was estimated to be approximately 6 metres wide, small enough to safely disintegrate in the atmosphere of the Earth.

The space rock disintegrated several miles above the earth’s surface. Videos posted on YouTube allegedly show the fireball streaks across the night sky, including a set on a South African farm security camera.

AN ASTEROID TURNED INTO A BLAZING FIREBALL OVER AFRICA LAST WEEKEND

2018 LA was first discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona., that is funded by NASA and is operated by the University of Arizona.

The meteroite fragment found in Botswana (Peter Jenniskens)

“This is the third time in history that an incoming asteroid to hit Earth, it was detected early and was only the second time that the fragments were recovered,” explained the University of Helsinki in a statement. “After the disruption, the meteorite fragments were blown by the wind while falling down, scattering over a large area.”

Experts from the SETI Institute in California, and the Finnish Fireball Network calculated that the meteorite landing area in Botswana.

FIREBALL FLIES OVER MIDWEST SKIES SUNDAY LEAVES’ BRILLIANT GREEN LIGHT’

“The importance of the find is twofold: It has great scientific value and a better calibration of the so-called ‘Earth Defense’ against impacting asteroids,” said the University of Helsinki.

Image photo (iStock)

(James Thew)

In 2016, NASA opened a new office to track asteroids and comets that come too close to the Earth, known as the Planetary Defense coordination office (PDCO). The PDCO will formalize the agency’s existing programs for detecting and tracking of near-earth objects (NEOs), NASA has been studied since the 1970s.

The space rock that streaks in the air of South Africa was much smaller than the meteorite that exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, injuring more than 1,000 people, estimated to be approximately 56 feet wide.

METEORITE HUNTERS: SCIENTISTS SEARCHING FOR THE REMAINS OF THE HUGE SPACE ROCK OFF THE COAST OF WASHINGTON

A small piece of an asteroid or comet is also known as a meteor. When it is in the atmosphere of the Earth, is it a meteor or a fireball or shooting star. The pieces of rock that hit the ground, valuable to collectors, are the meteorites.

The search team identify the place where the meteorite was found.

(Peter Jenniskens)

Earlier this year, a meteor made headlines when it flashed through the air in Michigan. The burning fireball sent meteorite hunters scrambling to find fragments of the rare space rock.

A team of scientists have recently been scanning the Pacific Ocean depths to find fragments of a large meteor that flashed across the skies of the Pacific Northwest on March 7, 2018, before hitting the ocean. The meteor was visible in parts of the state of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, according to the American Meteor Society.

On Sunday, a fireball, or bright meteor, was visible in nine Midwest states as it flashed across the night sky.

Fox News’ Jennifer Earl and The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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