A blinding flash of light over Kyiv on Wednesday remains unexplained.
Ukrainian officials initially blamed NASA for a satellite falling back to Earth.
But US officials denied the satellite’s involvement, saying it was still in orbit at the time.
The mystery of what caused a blinding flash to light up the night sky over Kyiv on Wednesday remains unsolved after NASA denied involvement.
The flash lit up the sky minutes before the air raid alarm went off in the city, causing concern among residents.
Although the alarm sounded, the air defense system was not operational, the head of the Kyiv military administration Serhiy Popko said on Telegram, according to the BBC.
Popko suggested that the flash was caused by a satellite that NASA had said was the cause, according to the BBC.
The Ukrainian Air Force also suggested that the flash was caused by a falling satellite or a meteor, according to The New York Times.
But US officials and experts have denied the implication of satellites in the Kyiv flash. The satellite was still in orbit at the time of the event, Rob Margetta from NASA’s Communications Office told the BBC.
Air Force spokesman Yuri Ihnat told Ukrainian television that the flash was seen as far as Belarus, according to the BBC.
A NASA satellite was to fall at the same time, but not over Ukraine
NASA had previously said that its Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) satellite, an unconventional spacecraft launched into orbit to analyze solar flares, was due to crash into our atmosphere within days.
Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who tracks objects falling into the atmosphere, said in a tweet on Wednesday that it was impossible that the satellite caused the flash.
“The bright flash seen over Kyiv has nothing to do with the re-entry of NASA’s RHESSI satellite, whose orbit does not come within thousands of kilometers of Ukraine,” he said.
The re-entry of the 660-pound satellite posed no threat to human life as it was to burn up in the atmosphere as it crashed down to Earth.
The flash looks like a meteor, one expert said
Although experts cannot yet confirm its cause, there are several theories.
The flash has all the telltale signs of a meteor, Sam Rolfe, an astronomer from the University of Hertfordshire, told Insider on Thursday.
“It looks pretty much a very standard fireball, a piece of space rock bigger than a typical meteor or shooting star,” they said.
The size, light trail, color and bright flash of light are all consistent with a space rock, at least the size of a football or a washing machine, disintegrating as it hits the atmosphere, Rolfe said. It could also be a plume, which is so large that it would not burn up completely in the atmosphere, like the one seen over Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013.
This could be a factor of the Earth passing through a dust cloud that is currently creating the Lyrid meteor showers, although it is impossible to know for sure.
There are surveillance systems that monitor objects that may land on Earth, but these do not usually track smaller objects. It is also possible that the rock could have been larger, but it was between the observing system and the sun, making it very difficult to see.
While the fireballs look amazing, they’re not really rare, Rolfe said.
“It’s probably very rare for people to see something like that, but in terms of how often it happens around the globe there’s probably at least one every day, if not multiple. But many of them will happen over the open ocean,” they said. said.
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