Following a powerful solar event known as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), the Earth’s atmosphere was engulfed in a storm earlier this February. Due to this event, the atmosphere heated up, causing its density to grow exponentially. This event was fatal for SpaceX’s recently launched Starlink satellites. The Elon Musk-led company suffered the loss of 40 satellites. Now, a video posted on The Weather Channel shows us that pieces of satellites are raining down on parts of the world.
The amazing video was captured on February 7 by the Caribbean Astronomy Society, an astronomy group based in Puerto Rico. In the images, we can see how pieces of Starlink satellites rain down in the night sky of the Caribbean region; creating an impressive trail that ends up disappearing from our view seconds later.
At the beginning of the video we can see how small pieces of space debris appear in the lower area of the screen. However, the “show” definitely begins when we approach the 50th second, when we start to see different pieces of space debris from the Starlink satellites wrapped in fire.
Experts confirm they are Starlink satellites
Dr. Marco Langbroek, a satellite orbit expert at Leiden University in the Netherlands, has confirmed in a post on his blog dedicated to satellite tracking that these are indeed fragments from the Starlink satellites.
I analyzed the astrometry of the event seen from Puerto Rico, and confirmed that the orbital inclination observed in the videos coincides with the 53.2 degree inclination of the recent (February 3) Starlink launch.
Dr. Marco Langbroek, Leiden University – The Netherlands
Fortunately, the shower of satellites does not mean any problems for humans on land. Besides being rather small satellites, all the special debris generated by the falling Starlink is expected to burn up in the atmosphere. They will also not add fuel to the growing space debris problem.
Too many satellites
Elon Musk has rather special plans for his Starlink satellites; and NASA doesn’t like it one bit. The entrepreneur plans to put an estimated 30,000 Starlink satellites into orbit with the help of SpaceX. However, NASA assures that such a high number of objects in space could translate into a “significant increase in the frequency of conjunction events and possible impacts on NASA’s science and human spaceflight missions”; they say in a note sent to the FCC.
On the other hand, Musk plans to re-establish Tonga’s Internet connection, quite damaged after the last tsunami, using Starlink technology. After all, the idea behind these satellites is to connect the whole world to the Internet, even if his plans cost an insane amount.