A small asteroid, only about 1 meter in diameter, entered the Earth’s atmosphere over northwestern France on Feb 13 at about 02:59 UTC. The asteroid, designated 2023 CX1, produced a bright fireball, which was witnessed from regions of England, France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Asteroid 2023 CX1 was discovered on Feb 12 at 20:18 UTC, almost 7 hours prior to impact, by Krisztián Sarneczky at the GINOP KHK observatory in Hungary. Within minutes of the discovery’s posting on the Minor Planet Center’s Near-Earth Object Confirmation Page, JPL’s Scout system identified the possibility that the asteroid could be on an impact trajectory. Within half an hour, as additional observations were reported, Scout assessed that impact was 100% certain, with possible impact locations over northwest France and the English Channel. Over the next six hours, leading to the impact itself, the astronomical community tracked 2023 CX1 extensively, reporting over 300 observations. These data helped Scout pinpoint the precise path and time of the predicted fireball.
2023 CX1 was the seventh asteroid discovered before an Earth impact. Because of the advance warning, accurate predictions, and the good fortune that the impact occurred over a relatively densely populated part of the globe, the fireball was widely seen by the members of the public and numerous photos and videos of the fireball were posted on the internet just minutes after the event. Because of its small size the asteroid disrupted in the atmosphere, possibly leaving a shower of meteorites on the ground.
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Ian J. O'Neill
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
NASA Headquarters, Washington