Science and Exploration

First 2014 Asteroid Discovered

By Keith Cowing
January 2, 2014
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First 2014 Asteroid Discovered
Asteroid 2014 AA

Asteroid 2014 AA was discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey on Jan. 1, 2014.
Early Wednesday morning (Jan. 1, 2014), while New Year’s 2014 celebrations were still underway in the United States, the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz., collected a single track of observations with an immediate follow-up on what was possibly a very small asteroid — 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size — on a potential impact trajectory with Earth.

Designated 2014 AA, which would make it the first asteroid discovery of 2014, the track of observations on the object allowed only an uncertain orbit to be calculated. However, if this was a very small asteroid on an Earth-impacting trajectory, it most likely entered Earth’s atmosphere sometime between 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) Wednesday and 6 a.m. PST (9 a.m. EST) Thursday.

[Text deleted due to confusion regarding accuracy of text – text that was posted VERBATIM from what NASA JPL PAO released]

It is unlikely asteroid 2014 AA would have survived atmospheric entry intact, as it was comparable in size to asteroid 2008 TC3, which was about 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size. 2008 TC3 completely broke up over northern Sudan in October 2008. Asteroid 2008 TC3 is the only other example of an object discovered just prior to hitting Earth. So far, there have been a few weak signals collected from infrasound stations in that region of the world that are being analyzed to see if they could be correlated to the atmospheric entry of 2014 AA.

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program at NASA Headquarters, Washington, manages and funds the search, study and monitoring of asteroids and comets whose orbits periodically bring them close to Earth. JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is available at: , and via Twitter at .

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.