People in Utah, Nevada, and California looked to the sky with concern Wednesday night as a streak of light blazed across the sky. Calls to law enforcement and news stations jammed the cell towers. In these bizarre times, people are on edge when such things happen, and who can blame them.
As panic started to foment, the United States Strategic Command – the agency responsible for detecting incoming missiles, aircraft and projectiles of all types – stepped in with an explanation to the phenomenon. The blazing trail being burned across the sky was caused by a Chinese rocket that re-entered the atmosphere near California.
The fiery streaks were from the disintegrating parts of a Chinese CZ-7 rocket, which made contact with the Earth’s atmosphere over Northern America in the skylines of Utah, Nevada and California at approximately 9:36pm Pacific time. There have been no reports of any rocket debris landing or of damage caused by the event.
The Chinese rocket was one of 16,000 man-made objects, including satellites and rocket and exploratory debris, the Joint Space Operations Center tracks in Earth’s orbit. These objects are either in a high enough orbit to remain in space or they, usually, burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
This Chinese rocket was drawn back into the Earth’s atmosphere causing it to burn up. This explains the blazing trail seen by many in the three states. Officials were quick to say that in instances when an object – rocket, satellite, etc. – does make it through the Earth’s atmosphere, it’s usually over water.
The Earth’s surface is 70 percent water. This makes the odds of an object falling from space striking land remote.
The Chinese rocket was launched June 25th. Scientists say that the launch heralded a new era in Chinese rocketry. As the Chinese seek to expand their military capabilities in space, this development is concerning from a military perspective, even as it posed no threat to civilians in any country
Scientists say that after a month in low orbit, the Chinese rocket re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere traveling at about 18,000 mph, he said. When people on the ground spotted the fiery trails of light, the rocket was most likely about 50 miles overhead.
The atmospheric burning of the Chinese rocket coincides with the annual Delta Aquarid meteor shower. This meteor shower is best seen by observers in the Southern Hemisphere and more southerly regions of the Northern Hemisphere. I usually peaks about July 28 or 29.
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