Hexbyte Glen Cove NASA system predicts impact of small asteroid

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

A small asteroid hit Earth’s atmosphere over the Norwegian Sea before disintegrating on March 11, 2022. But this event wasn’t a complete surprise: Astronomers knew it was on a collision course, predicting exactly where and when the impact would happen.

Two hours before the asteroid made impact, K. Sarneczky at the Piszkéstető Observatory in northern Hungary first reported observations of the small object to the Minor Planet Center—the internationally recognized clearinghouse for the position measurements of small celestial bodies. The object was posted on the Minor Planet Center’s Near-Earth Object Confirmation Page to flag it for additional observations that would confirm it as a previously unknown asteroid.

NASA’s “Scout” impact hazard assessment system then took these early measurements to calculate the trajectory of 2022 EB5. As soon as Scout determined that 2022 EB5 was going to hit Earth’s atmosphere, the system alerted the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) and NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, and flagged the object on the Scout webpage to notify the near-Earth object observing community. Maintained by CNEOS at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Scout automatically searches the Minor Planet Center’s database for possible new short-term impactors. CNEOS calculates every known near-Earth asteroid orbit to improve impact hazard assessments in support of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office.

“Scout had only 14 observations over 40 minutes from one observatory to work with when it first identified the object as an impactor. We were able to determine the possible impact locations, which initially extended from western Greenland to off the coast of Norway,” said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at JPL who developed Scout. “As more observatories tracked the asteroid, our calculations of its trajectory and impact location became more precise.”

This animation shows asteroid 2022 EB5’s predicted orbit around the Sun before impacting into the Earth’s atmosphere on March 11, 2022. The asteroid – estimated to be about 6 ½ feet (2 meters) wide – was discovered only two hours before impact. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scout determined that 2022 EB5 would enter the atmosphere southwest of Jan Mayen, a Norwegian island nearly 300 miles (470 kilometers) off the east coast of Greenland and northeast of Iceland. At 5:23 p.m. EST (2:23 p.m. PST), 2022 EB5 hit the atmosphere as predicted by Scout, and infrasound detectors have confirmed the impact occurred at the predicted time.

From observations of the asteroid as it approached Earth and the energy measured by infrasound detectors at time of impact, 2022 EB5 is estimated to have been about 6 1/2 feet (2 meters) in size. Tiny asteroids of this size get bright enough to be detected only in the last few hours before their impact (or before they make a very close approach to Earth). They are much smaller than the objects that the Planetary Defense Coordination Office is tasked by NASA with detecting and warning about.

“Tiny asteroids like 2022 EB5 are numerous, and they impact into the atmosphere quite frequently—roughly every 10 months or so,” said Paul Chodas, the director of CNEOS at JPL. “But very few of these asteroids have actually been detected in space and observed extensively prior to impact, basically because they are very faint until the last few hours, and a survey telescope has to observe just the right spot of sky at the right time for one to be detected.”

A larger asteroid with hazardous impact potential would be discovered much farther from Earth. NASA’s goal is to keep track of such asteroids and to calculate their in order to have many years’ notice ahead of a potential impact should one ever be identified. But this real-world event with a very small asteroid allowed the planetary defense community to exercise capabilities and gave some confidence that the impact prediction models at CNEOS are highly capable of informing the response to the potential impact of a larger object.

2022 EB5 is only the fifth small asteroid to be detected in space before hitting Earth’s atmosphere. The first asteroid to be discovered and tracked well before hitting Earth was 2008 TC3, which entered the atmosphere over Sudan and broke up in October 2008. That 13-foot-wide (4-meter-wide) scattered hundreds of small meteorites over the Nubian Desert. As surveys become more sophisticated and sensitive, more of these harmless objects will be detected before entering the atmosphere.

More information:
More information about CNEOS, asteroids, and near-Earth objects can be found at cneos.jpl.nasa.gov and www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroid-watch

NASA system predicts impact of small asteroid (2022, March 15)
retrieved 16 March 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-03-nasa-impact-small-asteroid.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Model predicts where ticks, Lyme disease will appear next in Midwest states thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Model predicts where ticks, Lyme disease will appear next in Midwest states

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Entomology professor Brian Allan and his colleagues built a model that can accurately predict future occurrences of black-legged ticks in the Midwest. Credit: L. Brian Stauffer

By drawing from decades of studies, scientists created a timeline marking the arrival of black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, in hundreds of counties across 10 Midwestern states. They used these data—along with an analysis of county-level landscape features associated with the spread of ticks—to build a model that can predict where ticks are likely to appear in future years.

Black-legged ticks can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, an infection that can affect the nervous system, heart and joints. The new will help prepare for the onset of Lyme disease in their counties before the first cases appear, researchers say. They report their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Black-legged ticks were first found in the Midwest in the 1960s in a few counties in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The first known case of what was later named Lyme disease occurred in the Midwest in 1969. Since then, black-legged ticks have expanded into numerous counties across those states and into Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The first Lyme disease cases in those counties track closely with the first reports of ticks.

Understanding that local health departments report new Lyme disease cases in their counties to federal officials and that the National Land Cover Database includes information about landscape features of each county, the researchers chose to use county-level data in their model. Their goal was to identify factors associated with the spread of ticks and Lyme disease to new counties.

“We used historical information to build a model that forecasts the future spread of Lyme disease in the Midwest,” said Brian Allan, an entomology professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who led the research with former doctoral student Allison Gardner, a professor of biology and ecology at the University of Maine.

“Our model was based on a few landscape factors that were highly predictive of the spread of ticks and Lyme disease and could be used as an early warning system to forecast areas likely to undergo invasion next,” Gardner said.

The researchers observed “a wavelike pattern of spread, where counties that get invaded with black-legged ticks tend to be adjacent to a county that has already been invaded,” Allan said. “And in some Midwestern states, we see that areas adjacent to major rivers are invaded in sequence. In Illinois, for example, the ticks first arrived along the Illinois River and then spread up and down the river quite quickly.”

The percentage of forest cover in a county also was important in predicting whether black-legged ticks would occur there. These three factors—proximity to a county where ticks had been detected, the presence of a river and the percentage of —together can predict the future occurrence of ticks in counties where none had been previously reported, the researchers found.

To test their model, Gardner used data gathered before 2012 to determine how ticks would spread into new areas in the Midwest from 2012 to 2016. The model predicted the appearance of ticks in new counties with greater than 90% accuracy.

“It was a little surprising to me that so few parameters could make these predictions with such high accuracy,” Gardner said.

Looking forward, the researchers identified 42 additional counties in the Midwest where black-legged ticks are likely to be detected by the end of 2021. The evidence suggests those ticks will carry the Lyme disease bacterium.

Understanding where ticks may be present before they have been reported may prompt public health officials and clinicians to include Lyme disease as a possible diagnosis for patients appearing with symptoms consistent with the infection, Allan said.

“If they don’t think the occurs in their area, doctors may be reluctant to diagnose a patient with Lyme disease,” he said.

More information:
Landscape features predict the current and forecast the future geographic spread of Lyme disease, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, rspb.royalsocietypublishing.or … .1098/rspb.2020.2278

Model predicts where ticks, Lyme disease will appear next in Midwest states (2020, December 22)
retrieved 23 December 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-12-lyme-disease-midwest-states.html

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