A small meteorite roughly one meter in length is expected to safely strike Earth’s atmosphere over northern France around 10:00 p.m. ET on Sunday evening, the European Space Agency said.
The meteorite, dubbed Sar2667, will enter the atmosphere over Rouen, France, and should be visible in Belgium, the Netherlands, northern France, and southern England, according to the International Meteor Organization.
It marks only the 7th time that astronomers have spotted an asteroid before it strikes Earth, a trend that the ESA attributes to “rapid advancements in global asteroid detection capabilities.”
The last asteroid that was detected before breaching Earth’s atmosphere, 2022 WJ1, was spotted just four hours before lighting up the skies over Toronto, Canada, on Nov. 19, 2022.
Small meteoroids like Sar2667 strike Earth every couple of weeks but aren’t a big danger to the planet.
Astronomers currently know of more than 1.1 million asteroids, about 30,600 of which qualify as near-Earth asteroids because their orbit brings them close to our planet, according to the ESA.
NASA, the ESA, and other organizations around the world are stepping up their planetary defense capabilities in case a planet-destroying asteroid ever gets on track to strike Earth.
Last year, NASA’s Dart spacecraft destroyed the asteroid Dimorphos in a dress rehearsal of the agency’s kinetic impact technique.