First ever predicted meteor fall over heavily populated area

(ORDO NEWS) — The space drama unfolded over southern Ontario on the night of Friday, November 18th. Shortly before midnight ET, the Catalina Sky Survey spacecraft detected a small object heading towards Earth.

This small asteroid, designated 2022 WJ1, was followed by observatories around the world for the next three hours before it hit Earth near southern Ontario on November 19.

2022 WJ1 was spotted by Western’s All-Sky camera network. The meteoroid entered Earth’s atmosphere south of Woodstock and traveled east in a bright fireball until it met its end just north of the city of Vineland.

Analysis of the video data suggests that meteorite fragments likely hit the ground near the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

“This fireball is especially significant because the parent meteoroid was observed through a telescope before it hit the atmosphere.

This provides a rare opportunity to link the asteroid’s telescopic data to its atmospheric decay behavior to gain insight into its internal structure,” said Peter Brown, scientific director of planetary small bodies at Western.

This is the first predicted impact over a densely populated area and within range of special instruments.

Despite the cloudiness, 6 All-Sky cameras and Western orbital radar tracked 2022 WJ1, providing a recording of the disintegration of this small asteroid in the atmosphere.

The latest piece of this cosmic puzzle is the search for meteorites, and the researchers are asking the public for help.

“We know from camera footage and weather radar that tracked falling debris from the fireball that meteorites almost certainly hit the ground near or east of Grimsby.

What we need now to complete this story is to find some of these rocks and find out what material the asteroid 2022 WJ1 was made of,” Brown said.

“This is very similar to a space mission to return a sample, but in this case, the sample fell on us.”

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