Posted: Saturday, May 8, 2021. 3:17 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Readers in the Belmopan area have sent Breaking Belize News video of a bright streaking light across the sky, sighted at 4:12 a.m. this morning and visible across the Capital as well as other areas. A video from a Mexican media outlet showed the object visible as far as Quintana Roo.
Some believe that it was debris from a rocket sent to space by Mainland China a week ago on April 29, which launched a piece of the new Chinese space station into orbit, but then was left to hurtle through space uncontrolled until Earth’s gravity began pulling it back to the ground.
However, according to CNN, this rocket is set to splash down between today, Saturday, and Monday, May 10.
The object, we understand, was more likely a bolide, Italian via Latin from the Greek for ‘missile,’ which is an extremely bright meteor presented as a fireball as bright as the full moon.
Bolide land on occasion without great incident and do not cause harm to humans or animals.
Meanwhile, the Long March 5B rocket, which is around 100 feet tall and weighs 22 tons, is traveling at about 18 thousand miles per hour and has already orbited Earth 30 times, but experts are not sure where it will land.
However, astrophysicist at Harvard University Jonathan McDowell told CNN that the risk of humans being hurt is very small, and that most likely it will land in one of the oceans, probably the Pacific, which is the largest.
The European Space Agency has predicted a “risk zone” that encompasses “any portion of Earth’s surface between about 41.5N and 41.5S latitude” — which includes virtually all of the Americas south of New York, all of Africa and Australia, parts of Asia south of Japan and Europe’s Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.
Despite recent efforts to better regulate and mitigate space debris, Earth’s orbit is littered with hundreds of thousands of pieces of uncontrolled junk, most of which are smaller than 4 inches. Objects are constantly falling out of orbit, though most of them burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere before they have a chance to make an impact on the surface.
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