Fireball that lit up Australia’s Pilbara sky “something special,” but scientists not exactly sure what

Fireball that lit up Australia’s Pilbara sky “something special,” but scientists not exactly sure what
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June 17, 2020 –

2:25 pm CST

ABC Pilbara / By Karen Michelmore

  • Many people videoed the bright green object streaking across the sky in the Australian WA’s remote Pilbara region
  • It was spotted by people in three states traveling over a wide distance, from at least Cape Lambert to Hope Downs
  • Scientists say the green-blue color indicates it was likely a natural object containing iron

Scientists say the “jury is still out” about a mysterious green glow that traveled across the sky in the remote West Australian outback early this morning.

Night workers on remote sites from Cape Lambert to Hope Downs in the Pilbara saw the bright light just before 1:00 am, and many captured it on video.

There were reports of sightings as far away as the Northern Territory and South Australia, according to Glen Nagle from the CSIRO-NASA tracking station in Canberra.

“It was really a spectacular observation,” he said.

Speculation among astronomy enthusiasts was fevered, with some suggesting it could have been the remains of a rocket launched recently.

But Renae Sayers, from Curtin University’s Space, Science and Technology Centre, said it was most likely a natural object.

“It’s absolutely stunning,” she said.

“It’s a ball of green… what you are seeling is a giant flash of light, it’s almost like a ball with this gorgeous long tail.”

“What we tend to see, when objects like space debris, or if it’s a satellite burning up, what we tend to see is sort of like crackles and sparks.”

“This is due to the fact that there is stuff burning up — so you’ve got solar panels going all over the place, you’ve got hunks of metal moving around as it’s burning up through our atmosphere.”

Normally, she said, space rocks entering the atmosphere presented at a very fast and shallow angle, and fizzled out quickly.

“The reason why this is really interesting and the jury is out with our scientists, is that earlier this year we shared a paper of a grazing fireball that actually entered our atmosphere, burned 1,300km across the Australian sky and kicked back out into interstellar space, and that’s what this looked like as well.”

Curtin University has a network of 50 cameras across southern Australia covering 3 million square kilometres of sky to try and capture fireball events in a project called Desert Fireball Network.

Project manager Ellie Sansom said it was most likely an asteroid or a meteoroid because it was bright and did not flicker too much.

About 60,000 of the meteorites have been recovered around the world, and all contain valuable information about the earliest history of the universe.

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“These are basically rocks that are older than the Earth, and pre-date having planets in the solar system,” Dr Sansom said.

“So we can use those to figure out how our solar system formed, possibly how Earth formed, and maybe even where life came from on Earth.”

Unfortunately, there are no plans to actively scour the Pilbara’s red rock landscape for any fallen meteorite, she said.


One thought on “Fireball that lit up Australia’s Pilbara sky “something special,” but scientists not exactly sure what

  1. You can’t go to space. There are no satellites. It’s all lies. More than likely you will see more weird stuff in the Sky all made by them

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