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First 2014 Asteroid Discovered

This animated GIF shows Asteroid 2014 AA, discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey on Jan. 1, 2014, as it moved across the sky. Image Credit: CSS/LPL/UA

This animated GIF shows Asteroid 2014 AA, discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey on Jan. 1, 2014, as it moved across the sky.

Image Credit: CSS/LPL/UA

Early Wednesday morning , January 1, the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, collected a single track of observations with an immediate follow-up on what was possibly a very small asteroid - 7 to 10 feet 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 2 pm EST Wednesday and 9 am EST Thursday.

Using the only available observations, three independent projections of the possible orbit by the independent orbit analyst Bill Gray, the Minor Planet Center in Massachusetts, and Steve Chesley, of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, are in agreement that 2014 AA would hit Earth's atmosphere. According to Chesley, the potential impact locations are widely distributed because of the orbit uncertainty, falling along an arc extending from Central America to East Africa. The most likely impact location of the object was just off the coast of West Africa at about 9 pm EST Jan. 1.

Read the full story on NASA's website. 

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