A SPECTACULAR fireball has been sighted from numerous astronomical observatories in Spain—the phenomenon in question, however, was not a meteorite, rather a SpaceX Starlink satellite that disintegrated.
SpaceX put the satellite into orbit exactly one year ago, on 24 January 2021. It was not the only one. Another 145 were launched and their mission was to provide internet communications over Spain.
The reentry in the atmosphere of the Starlink satellite generated a stunning fireball as it burst into flames at a speed of about 27,000 kilometres per hour.
The event took place on Monday night, January 23 at 11pm and was recorded by the detectors of the Meteorological and Earth Observation Network of Southwest Europe (SWEMN), which operates in different observatories in the country and work in the framework of the SMART Project, coordinated by the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalucia (IAA-CSIC).
The event has been analysed by the principal investigator of the SMART project, Dr. Jose M. Madiedo, from the IAA-CSIC, which also included data provided by some eyewitnesses, has made it possible to determine that the reentry of the satellite, with a mass of 260kg, took place at about 27,000 kilometres per hour at an altitude of about 100 kilometres above a point in northern Morocco, almost on the border with Algeria.
From there it moved in a north-westerly direction and along its trajectory the satellite fragmented, so that several fireballs could be seen moving in parallel as each of these fragments became incandescent.
The fireball crossed the whole Peninsula ending its trajectory over the Cantabrian Sea.