Satel­lite’s flashy fi­nale

Nelson Mail - - National News - Outer space

The bright ‘‘shoot­ing star’’ which tore across New Zealand’s sky re­cently had stargaz­ers ex­cited and stumped. Peo­ple were ask­ing: was it a me­teor, a plane, or per­haps space junk that lit up the night sky last Satur­day? Well, Rus­sia has solved the mys­tery after con­firm­ing it was one of its satel­lites burn­ing up as it re-en­tered Earth’s at­mos­phere. Rus­sia’s Aero­space Forces told The Guardian the Kos­mos 2430 early warn­ing satel­lite, which is de­signed to de­tect in­tercon­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile launches, was guided out of or­bit as part of a planned op­er­a­tion. ‘‘The satel­lite burned up com­pletely in the dense at­mos­phere above the At­lantic Ocean at a height of around 100km,’’ Aero­space Forces said. It added that its re-en­try was un­der con­trol at all times, and that the early warn­ing satel­lite, launched in 2007, had been non-op­er­a­tional since 2012.

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