On March 11, a small, 6-foot-wide asteroid hit Earth off the coast of Norway.

  • Technology from NASA tracked the rock’s movements two hours before it hit the planet.
  • This technology could potentially warn us of larger, more dangerous objects before they hit Earth, according to NASA.

How was the asteroid found? Scout is an impact hazard assessment system developed by NASA.

  • Scout correctly predicted the exact time and place that the asteroid, 2022 EB5, would hit the planet, according to The New York Times.
  • Krisztián Sárneczky, at an observatory in Budapest, noticed the space rock, and at first, it seemed ordinary. Over time he realized “its movement was faster. That’s when I realized it was fast approaching us,” said Sárneczky to The New York Times.

NASA technology predicts the exact time and location the asteroid would hit: “Scout only had 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, an engineer who helped develop Scout.

  • “As most observatories tracked the asteroid, our calculations of its trajectory and impact location became more precise,” said Farnocchia to NASA.

This asteroid is not a threat: “Tiny asteroids like 2022 EB5 are numerous, and they impact into the atmosphere quite frequently — roughly every 10 months or so,” said Paul Chodas, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, to NASA.

  • “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,” said Chodas.
  • Scientists weren’t particularly alarmed by 2022 EB5 — the small size of the asteroid didn’t pose any threat to Earth — but it shows how NASA can track asteroids in real time, in case a larger, more threatening asteroid could be headed toward the planet, reports NASA.

Earth-threatening asteroid: The more threatening asteroids are about 460 feet across, which The New York Times reports to number in the tens of thousands.

  • “Although scientists suspect that most near-Earth asteroids big enough to cause worldwide devastation have been identified, a handful may still be hiding behind the sun,” according to The New York Times.
  • Earth currently lacks ways to protect itself against asteroids of that size, but scientists are studying ways to use nuclear weapons to “divert or annihilate threatening space rocks,” reported The New York Times.