The disintegration of a Starlink satellite that the company SpaceX put into orbit on January 24, 2021 to provide Internet communications has generated tonight a spectacular fireball over Spain that could be seen from multiple points of the country.

This fireball has been recorded by the detectors that the Southwest European Meteor and Fireball Network (SWEMN Network) operates in different observatories in the country, working in the framework of the SMART Project, coordinated from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC).

The satellite that originated the fireball entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of about 27,000 kilometers per hour at 23:00 hours yesterday January 23.

It would be a Starlink satellite, with a mass of about 260 kilograms, which the company SpaceX put into orbit on January 24, 2021 in order to provide Internet communications.

The abrupt friction with the atmosphere at this enormous speed caused the object to become incandescent, thus generating a fireball that started at an altitude of about 100 kilometers above a point located north of Morocco, almost on the border with Algeria.

From there it advanced in a northwesterly direction and along its trajectory the satellite was fragmenting, so that several fireballs could be seen advancing in parallel as each of these fragments became incandescent.

According to the information available at this moment, the fireball would have crossed the whole Iberian Peninsula and finally would have reached Asturias, where it would have finished its trajectory over the Cantabrian Sea.

Therefore, any possible fragment of the satellite that survived its abrupt passage through the Earth’s atmosphere would have fallen into the sea.

However, the case is still under study in case new information could be useful to obtain more data.


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