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Video: Spectacular 'balls Of Fire' Light Up US Skies, Experts Reveal It Was SpaceX Debris

Strange balls of fire lit up skies over the American states of Washington and Oregon on March 26, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents stunned.

Image: JoshVester/Twitter

Strange fireballs lit up skies over the American states of Washington and Oregon on March 26, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents stunned. Soon after the rare phenomenon occurred, people started bombarding social media platforms with photos and videos of it. The display also sparked speculations amongst netizens about the bright-lit objects and led to many concluding that it was a ‘meteor shower’. 

As the buzz caught the attention of astronomers and experts, they took it upon themselves to iron out details about the light show. Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, affiliated with the Centre of Astrophysics and the National Weather Service (NWS) tweeted that it was not a meteor shower but space debris. Adding to it, other experts later revealed that the phenomenon was caused by SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket second stage debris that failed to de-orbit and burn up after launch, but got around to it 22 days later.

Additionally, he also shared some fun facts about space debris. In his post, he wrote, "A breakup like the one over Seattle happens at about 60 km (~40 miles) up, far above where aeroplanes fly (more like 10 km)." Additionally, he also highlighted that space agencies could predict this rocket stage would reenter on which date. "But as of yesterday the TIME at which it would reenter was still uncertain by 5 hours", he added. 

Just last month, skies above Queensland lit up with flashing lights as debris from a Chinese rocket flew past the Australian state. The unusual sight prompted social media users to share pictures and videos of the space debris burning up as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. Experts have opined that space debris poses threat to satellites orbiting the planet, therefore, it is better to burn them up in the earth’s atmosphere itself.

What is space debris?

As per NASA, most orbital debris comprises human-generated objects, such as pieces of spacecraft, tiny flecks of paint from a spacecraft, parts of rockets, satellites that are no longer working, or explosions of objects in orbit flying around in space at high speeds. Space junk is no one countries’ responsibility, but the responsibility of every spacefaring country.  The problem of managing space debris is both an international challenge and an opportunity to preserve the space environment for future space exploration missions.

Image: JoshVester/Twitter



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