Discarded trash from the space station has rained fire across the California sky

Jeff Waters and his friends weren’t sure what to think of the twinkling lights that streaked across the Sacramento night sky late Friday.

About seven meteor-like fires appeared to be raging by 9:30 p.m., diverting attention from the ongoing St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, as evidenced by video taken by Watters.

“It just seemed crazy,” Waters said in a written statement to The Times. “We thought maybe it was a Starlink or SpaceX thing or something, but it didn’t really make sense.”

Turns out, the scene was created by flaring up “orbital debris” that re-entered Earth’s atmosphere over northern California, after years spent orbiting the Earth since it was dumped from the International Space Station in 2020, according to Smithsonian astronomer Jonathan McDowell.

“We knew this object would be back inside sometime this weekend, but we didn’t know exactly when” — or where, for that matter, McDowell said.

spinning at 17,000 miles per hour, like “space junkIt’s hard to track precisely, he said, which means that regularly this kind of debris — the consequences of launches or left over from space exploration — will return to the atmosphere in what’s known as an “uncontrolled return.” But he said the US Space Force tracks thousands. Of these elements, so when the dazzling show was seen on Friday in the sky of who Sacramento to Fresnowas able to match the event to space debris.

“The light you see is the kinetic energy that dissipates,” McDowell said. “It gets so hot that it melts and crumbles.”

See also  Magellan's photographs revealed volcanic activity on Venus

This particular piece of equipment, McDowell said, was a 683-pound communications device that Japan launched in 2009 and attached outside to the International Space Station. It transmitted information back to Earth for about eight years but became obsolete when its coordinating satellite stopped working. In 2020, he said, ISS officials disposed of the device from the space station, beginning its long journey to Earth.

McDowell discovered that pieces of melted equipment spotted in Northern California may have fallen near Yosemite National Park.

Although the phenomenon has brought amazement and awe across Northern California, McDowell noted that there have been at least two other pieces of space debris that have also re-entered the atmosphere in the past few days, although in locations that may have gone unnoticed.

“I get a report like this from somewhere in the world every two months,” he said. “It is rare anywhere, but it is common on a global scale.”

More than 200 pieces of alien junk enter the atmosphere each year, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, though many burn to the ground and disintegrate upon their return, and the majority fall into the Invisible Ocean.

“Every day the Space Force tracks more than 20,000 objects in orbit around the Earth,” McDowell said, though he noted that about 7,000 of them work on satellites. “This object is just one of those 20,000 that happened to be reintroduced this weekend and happened to be reinserted at a time and place where a lot of people saw it.”

as the spread From these unwanted increases in space, The chances of such debris landing in a dangerous way — hitting people or critical infrastructure — also increase, McDowell said, though those chances are still low. He said he would like to see more safety precautions taken by teams firing such equipment, especially when the debris could include larger pieces.

See also  The woolly mammoth returns. Should we eat them?

China has come under fire for launching a new rocket in which its booster plunged uncontrollably to the ground. his rocket booster Landed so far without incidentBut experts worry that this will not always be the case.

“Every time…they release one of these, it’s a kind of orbital roulette,” said McDowell. “The odds are in their favor, but not so much that I wouldn’t worry.”

There are methods for controlling and planning how objects will re-enter the atmosphere, which are used by many teams around the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *