JUL 30, 2016 1:51 PM PDT

Footage Shows Bits of Chinese Space Junk Entering Atmosphere

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Social media lit up in the middle of the week after sightings of what appeared to be a very colorful shower of glowing objects entering the Earth’s atmosphere over the Western United States, including California and Utah, at around 9:30 PM.
 
At the time of the event, no one actually knew what the object(s) were, and many passed them off as some kind of meteor shower, which are common at this time of the year. Videos were reocrded from many angles, showing different faces of the fireballs.

One, shared by Matt Holt on Twitter, shows the fireball breaking into many:
 

 


However, new reports now suggest that the objects entering the Earth’s atmosphere weren’t that of a meteor shower at all, but rather were the result of a spent Chinese rocket entering the Earth’s atmosphere and burning up in the process.

Another source of footage shows the fireball much more in-tact:
 

 


 
It wasn’t anything new that was just launched, and it wasn't anything alien.

It is believed to have been an old rocket that was used in the past to deliver supplies into space. Nevertheless, the event highlights the problem we have with space junk and how it can uncontrollably enter the Earth’s atmosphere in dangerous locations, potentially posing a risk of danger to human life.

Space junk occurs when we send satellites and rockets into space. At times, satellites get decommissioned, or turned off, and there's really no way to bring them back down, so they just stay in their orbital path in a dynfunctional state. The rockets that take the satellites into space sometimes come back down to Earth, and sometimes don't, so those float around up there too.
 
Space agencies all typically work together to keep track of space junk and warn one another of potential atmospheric re-entries. Except, of course, for China. China’s space agency likes to keep things under wraps and doesn’t disclose information. As a result, things like this are bound to happen completely randomly and there’s little we can do about it.
 
There are literally hundreds of thousands of individual pieces of space junk orbiting the planet at different levels, all between 200 miles and 22,000 miles above the planet. At random times, space junk collides with one another, knocking it off course, and sending it flying one way or the other. In some cases, that’s back at Earth.
 
Although it’s tough to control, space agencies are working on ways that we can remove unwanted space junk from orbit to help clean the area up and pave the way for new missions in the future. Such an initiate would also prevent these debacles from happening.
 
Source: Bad Astronomy, CBS

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
APR 21, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
New Pulsar Detected in Southern Hemisphere
APR 21, 2021
New Pulsar Detected in Southern Hemisphere
A new pulsar has been discovered with images from the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope, a low-frequency radio t ...
MAY 29, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Climate Models Overestimate Role of Greenhouse Gases in Global Warming, Says New Study
MAY 29, 2021
Climate Models Overestimate Role of Greenhouse Gases in Global Warming, Says New Study
Researchers have that there was four times more soot in the pre-industrial Southern Hemisphere's atmosphere than pre ...
JUL 03, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astronauts Perform CRISPR Gene Editing in Space
JUL 03, 2021
Astronauts Perform CRISPR Gene Editing in Space
NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have developed and successfully carried out a CRISPR-Cas9 p ...
JUL 20, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Moon Landing, 52 Years Later
JUL 20, 2021
The Moon Landing, 52 Years Later
On July 16, 1969 the Apollo 11 spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral (Cape Kennedy) Florida. Four days later, astr ...
AUG 27, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Model the Titan Moon in a Tube
AUG 27, 2021
Researchers Model the Titan Moon in a Tube
An image of Saturn's moon Titan on November 11, 1980 during Voyager 1's flyby. Courtesy NASA/JPL-CalTech/Kevin M. Gill
SEP 16, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
American Astronomical Society Commits to Open Access Journals
SEP 16, 2021
American Astronomical Society Commits to Open Access Journals
The American Astronomical Society (AAS) will move to open access format by January 1, 2022. AAS publishes six journals: ...
Loading Comments...