Earth-skimming meteoroid dipped 56 miles into the atmosphere before returning to space
A meteoroid was captured skimming Earth’s atmosphere for a few seconds above Germany and the Netherlands before returning on its journey through space.
Astronomers spotted the bright cosmic object streaking across the night sky on September 22, as is dipped 56 miles in altitude – lower than any satellites orbiting Earth.
The video was shot at 11:53pm ET and shows the meteoroid covering a path of more than 499 miles as it sunk into our atmosphere for 19 seconds.
Researchers from Western University traced it to a Jupiter-family orbit, but was unable to identify matches of potential parent bodies.
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Astronomers spotted the bright cosmic object streaking across the night sky on September 22, as is dipped 56 miles in altitude – lower than any satellites orbiting Earth
Earth grazing meteoroids occur sporadically – the last one to be captured was spotted over Australia in 2017.
This event lasted for one and a half minutes and the space rock soared through Earth’s atmosphere at more than 35,000 mile per hour before returning to space.
The September 22 event, although lasting just 19 seconds, left those on the ground in awe as they witnessed the spaced rock streak through the night sky.
The video was taken by the Global Meteor Network (GMN), which is a team of amateur astronomers who have cameras all over the world to capture such occasions.
The meteoroid was captured skimming Earth’s atmosphere for a few seconds above Germany and the Netherlands before returning on its journey through space
More than 100 people reported seeing the meteoroid and shared images they snapped of the event
However, a number of witnesses also shared their videos of the meteoroid skimming Earth’s atmosphere.
Denis Vida, a physics postdoc from Western University in Ontario and founder of GMN) said: ‘The network is basically a decentralized scientific instrument, made up of amateur astronomers and citizen scientists around the planet each with their own camera system.’
We make all data such as meteoroid trajectories and orbits available to the public and scientific community, with the goal of observing rare meteor shower outbursts and increasing the number of observed meteorite falls and helping to understand delivery mechanisms of meteorites to Earth.’
The European Space Agency describes a meteoroid as a fragment of a comet or asteroid that breaks off and creates a bright light streak in the sky.
Most of the rock disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere, but the recent visitor did not get low enough to burn up.
Pictured is a graph showing the more than 466 mile path the meteoroid took as it skimmed Earth’s atmosphere
Researchers from Western University traced it to a Jupiter-family orbit, but was unable to identify matches of potential parent bodies
Tens of thousands of meteorites have been found on Earth, yet, of these only about 40 can be traced back to a parent asteroid or asteroidal source.
A study conducted by Harvard speculates that an Earth skimming asteroid may have taken life to Venus, which is based on the 2017 meteor that was spotted over Australia.
The team believes this meteor could have collected up some 10,000 microbial colonies from our world and carried it to another.
The study notes that over the last 3.7 billion years, at least 600,000 space rocks that dipped into Earth’s atmosphere have a collided with Venus.
‘Although the abundance of terrestrial life in the upper atmosphere is unknown, these planet-grazing shepherds could have potentially been capable of transferring microbial life between the atmospheres of Earth and Venus,’ the Harvard study reads.
‘As a result, the origin of possible Venusian life may be fundamentally indistinguishable from that of terrestrial life.’
Previous research determined that life is found up to an altitude of 43 miles from the surface.
Earth-grazing asteroids can dip 52 miles without experiencing significant heating – another lower would kill any life it gathered from our planet.
Earth grazing meteoroids occur sporadically – the last one to be captured was spotted over Australia in 2017 (pictured). This event lasted for one and a half minutes and the space rock soared through Earth’s atmosphere at more than 35,000 mile per hour before returning to space
‘Further work is needed to investigate the existence and abundance of microbial life in the upper atmosphere,’ reads the study.
The team also notes that if a meteor coming from Earth enters the atmosphere of another planet, hitchhiking microbes could be released in clouds before the rock disintegrates in the atmosphere.
‘A future probe that could sample the habitable cloud deck of Venus will potentially enable the direct discovery of microbial life outside of Earth, the team wrote.’
‘Specifically, the capability to either directly analyze microbes in situ or to return an atmospheric sample to Earth will be critical in the design of a successful mission. Finding exactly the same genomic material and helicity on Venus and Earth would constitute a smoking gun for panspermia.’