Meteor grazes Earth’s atmosphere as it makes its way past

Date:29 September 2020 Author: Leila Stein

A meteor making its way passed the Earth lightly grazed our atmosphere in a really unusual manoeuvre.

Captured by the Global Meteor Network, the meteoroid made its way over Northern Germany and the Netherlands and came in as low as 91km before bouncing back into space.

“A meteoroid is typically a fragment of a comet or asteroid that becomes a meteor – a bright light streaking through the sky – when it enters the atmosphere. Most of them disintegrate, possibly with pieces reaching the ground as meteorites,” said the European Space Agency.

“This lucky visitor, however, didn’t get low enough to completely burn up and managed to escape again, only grazing the edges of our planet’s protective gassy shield.”

This event only happens a few times a years among the thousands of meteors which enter the atmosphere.

This makes spotting such an event quite lucky. Despite the Global Meteor Network’s attempts using a network of cameras, the entire sky is not currently watched all the time.

“The network is basically a decentralised scientific instrument, made up of amateur astronomers and citizen scientists around the planet each with their own camera systems” explains Denis Vida who founded the initiative.

“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”.

Image credit: ESA

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