Monday, 16 February 2009

Feb 15 Texas-Nebraska daylight fireball was NOT satellite debris

Sightings of a bright daylight fireball seen from Texas to Nebraska on February 15th, have been widely reported in the press.

Contrary to what the FAA appears to be stating, this was definitely NOT debris from the collision between the Iridium 33 and Kosmos 2251 satellites on February 10th.

Video footage of the fireball (see below) shows that it moved clearly too fast for that, and was of too short duration, to be decaying satellite debris. In stead it is in line with a meteoritic fireball (asteroidal debris).

There is a clear difference in speed between the two categories: asteroidal/cometary debris moves at at least 11 km/s (and usually much faster) and typically lasts only a few seconds (as this fireball did). Satellite debris decaying moves at 7.5 to 8 km/s, so clearly slower, and typically has a much longer duration (due to the slower speed, but also because it enters at shallow angles). The video footage is incompatible with the appearance of decaying satellite debris. It is completely compatible with a meteoric fireball (asteroidal debris).

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