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Queensland Meteor Questions Efficacy of Near-Earth Asteroid Monitoring System

Sep 29, 2016 04:11 AM EDT
Bright Leonid Fireball
A meteor reportedly hit Queensland last Monday lighting up the sky; residents even reported hearing a loud bang that could mean the space rock hit the ground.
(Photo : NASA/Getty Images)

Is Earth really safe from space debris? And does the planet have enough monitoring systems to predict potential and devastating impact? These were questioned by an astronomer when a meteor reportedly hit Queensland last Monday, Sept. 26.

In a fascinating and alarming manner, residents from Queensland reported that there's a ball from the sky that hit the ground causing a minor earthquake and split-second illumination of the sky. The ball of fire is believed to be a part of a meteor strike that occurred near Queensland.

If it is indeed a meteor strike, was it too unpredictable that no warnings were issued? We're the fireball undetected by experts? The recent incident questions the efficacy of near-Earth asteroid monitoring systems on Earth.

Reports of the meteor strike suggest that the impact occurred about 8 pm last Monday, Sept. 26. People from Gladstone near Brisbane sent the most number of reports about the possible meteor strike. While Owen Bennedick, an astronomer at Wappa Falls Observatory also received reports about the strike. However, there's no concrete evidence yet that a meteor landed near Queensland.

Astronomers like Bennedick believes it could be shockwaves caused by space rocks hitting the Earth. But his concern is more focused on why no experts know about it. Is the Earth's near-Earth object monitoring systems enough to guard the planet?

"There's not enough research done around the world and not enough observatories or observing time to do it," astronomer Owen Bennedick said in a statement.

The explosion may have occurred in the sky outside the planet that will then cause air busts that can be felt on Earth as well. Meteorites have distinct characteristics that may cause them to explode. Having a cold interior and hot exterior it is already vulnerable, add the Earth's atmosphere to the equation then they become more prone to explosion.

The astronomer also cited that the asteroid monitoring system on Earth is not enough to observe all the space rocks and other objects that orbit the planet, according to the International Business Times. All these poses risks to Earth and therefore should me monitored at all times.

The bombardment of reports by Queensland residents saying they heard a loud bang and flashing lights in the sky last Monday greatly alarmed astronomers all over the world. If it is indeed a space rock that caused the loud bang, how come no one knew about it?

A CCTV footage was released showing the night sky lighting up for a split second. This is one proof that there was an anomaly during the time reports about a loud impact sound was heard. The latest meteor scare may not have resulted in something devastating but Bennedick believes that more efforts should be done to increase and improve Earth's asteroid monitoring system.

"We are very worried about the potential of a much larger object hitting the Earth, an asteroid or something and there are a number of programs running to try to monitor this," Bennedick added in a statement.

Today, everyone is hopeful that the efficacy of whatever monitoring system exist today may be enough to predict potential bigger and more devastating impacts in the future.


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