Observers at NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey, operating out of Tuscon, Arizona, discovered 2018 LA, and estimated it at about 6-feet across, or "boulder-sized", and that it would safely disintegrate into the Earth's atmosphere.
Just over 13 hours after it was detected, a bright "bolide" fireball was spotted at the end of that line, over the border between Botswana and South Africa.
Generally speaking, NASA has a pretty good idea of which asteroids are hanging out in Earth's neighborhood.
"This was a much smaller object than we are tasked to detect and warn about", said Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA Headquarters, in a statement from the agency. "However, this real-world event allows us to exercise our capabilities and gives some confidence our impact prediction models are adequate to responde to the potential impact of a larger object".
A small chunk of an asteroid or comet is also known as a meteoroid.
When it was first detected, the asteroid was almost as far away as the Moon's orbit, although that was not initially known.
Because astronomers spotted the space rock when it was so close to our planet, they couldn't say exactly where it would impact.
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One such larger object was the asteroid that went completely undetected until it collided with the atmosphere over Russian Federation in 2013, creating a shock wave that blew out thousands of windows in the town of Chelyabinsk ans caused a number of injuries. The signal is consistent with an atmospheric impact over Botswana.
An asteroid four times as big exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013 in an airburst blowing out windows injuring more than 1,500 people mainly due to cuts caused by flying glass and debris.
There have been only two other times when asteroids were detected so soon before impact.
After data was sent from the Catalina telescope to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and then onto the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasedena, California, it was determined that there was a high probability the asteroid was travelling on an impact trajectory.
This is the incredible moment a high-speed asteroid the size of a auto explodes over the South African wilderness just seconds before impact.
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.
A 2014 asteroid was discovered by Kowalski just a few hours before entering over the Atlantic, with little time for tracking.