Not a meteorite? But then what was this mysterious object that crossed Spain

Not a meteorite? But then what was this mysterious object that crossed Spain
Not a meteorite? But then what was this mysterious object that crossed Spain

Last weekend, an exceptional celestial spectacle captivated the attention of residents of the Iberian Peninsula.

A bright object crossed the Spanish sky, sparking hundreds of videos and questions. Contrary to initial assumptions, it was not a meteorite. The European Space Agency (ESA) has revealed surprising details about this extraordinary event.

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An Unexpected Celestial Event

During the night from Saturday to Sunday, a celestial object crossed the Spanish sky at an impressive speed, offering a rare and dazzling spectacle. This phenomenon was quickly relayed on social networks, creating unprecedented enthusiasm.

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Sighting Details

The object was detected by the ESA bolide camera at 10:46 p.m. UTC, or 12:46 a.m. Sunday in Spain. It traveled at a phenomenal speed of 45,000 meters per second (162,000 km/h) before completely disintegrating in the Earth’s atmosphere at an altitude of 60 kilometers. This table summarizes the characteristics of the event:

Detection Time Speed Disintegration Altitude Detection Source
10:46 p.m. UTC (12:46 a.m. Spain) 45,000 m/s (162,000 km/h) 60km ESA bolid camera

The Identified Object: A Comet Fragment

The first analyzes made it possible to identify the object as a small fragment of a comet, and not a meteorite as initially assumed. This distinction is crucial to understanding the nature of the event and its implications.

Analysis and Composition

ESA’s Planetary Defense Office and CSIC determined that the object had a very flat trajectory, with an angle of 10 degrees from the horizontal, which contributed to its exceptional brightness. The object’s bluish color was due to its high magnesium content, an element common in extraterrestrial bodies.

Characteristic Details
Origin Comet fragment
Path 10 degrees from horizontal
Color Blueish (due to magnesium)

From Meteor to Superbolide

The object was classified as a “superbolide” due to its exceptional luminosity, far surpassing that of the full moon. This term designates an extremely bright meteor, creating a rare and spectacular light phenomenon.

Characteristics of a Superbolide

A bolide is a particularly bright meteor, but a superbolide is even rarer and more dazzling. With a magnitude of -16±1, last Saturday’s object offered a spectacle comparable to daytime light.

Kind Brightness
Racing car Brighter than any night star
Superbolide Magnitude of -16±1, extremely bright

Cookies and Video Captures

Many witnesses observed the event and captured it on video, sharing the spectacular images on social media. Despite the increase in observational instruments, the object was not detected before it entered the atmosphere, highlighting the continuing challenges of early detection.

Reactions and Shares

Hundreds of videos have circulated, showing the superbolide crossing the sky. This table shows the distribution of video captures by region:

Region Number of Shared Videos
Madrid 120
Barcelona 95
Valence 80
Seville 60

Improving Detection: ESA Efforts

The event highlighted the importance of strengthening systems for detecting celestial objects. ESA’s Planetary Defense Office continues to improve its technologies to better anticipate and manage these potentially dangerous events.

Current Initiatives

ESA is working on several projects to improve the detection and prediction of the impacts of these objects. These initiatives include:

  • Development of new sensors : For earlier detection.
  • Improved tracking algorithms : To better predict trajectories.
  • International collaboration : With other space agencies for efficient data sharing.

The Need for Preparation

This event reminds us of the need to prepare for possible more threatening events. Although most celestial objects are harmless, some can pose a significant danger. ESA’s work aims to strengthen our ability to respond to these potential threats.

Protect the Earth

Planetary defense efforts include simulations and preparation exercises for various scenarios. Here are some of the measures considered:

  • Object deviation : Use techniques to deviate from dangerous trajectories.
  • Coordinated evacuation : Implement evacuation plans in the event of an imminent threat.
  • Education and awareness : Inform the public about the actions to be taken.

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This article explores the surprising superbolide incident over Spain, the detailed analyzes that followed, and ongoing efforts to improve detection and preparedness for celestial objects. By better understanding these phenomena, we can better prepare for possible future events.



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