Mystery flash about Kiev still unsolved NASA denies involvement

Mystery flash about Kiev still unsolved, NASA denies involvement – Business Insider

A screenshot from a video shows the huge flash of light that lit up the sky over Kiev on Wednesday. Courtesy of @olex_scherba

  • A blinding flash of light over Kiev on Wednesday remains unexplained.
  • Ukraine officials initially blamed a NASA satellite falling back to Earth.
  • But US officials have 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 Kiev 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, sparking concern among residents.

Although the alarm was sounded, the air defense system was not operational, Kyiv’s military administration head Serhiy Popko said via Telegram, according to the BBC.

Popko suggested the flash was caused by a satellite that NASA had said should return to Earth, according to the BBC.

The Ukrainian Air Force also suspected the flash was produced by a falling satellite or a meteor, according to the New York Times.

But US officials and experts have denied the satellites’ involvement in the Kiev Blitz. The satellite was still in orbit at the time of the event, Rob Margetta of NASA’s Office of Communications told the BBC.

According to the BBC, Air Force spokesman Yuri Ihnat told Ukrainian television that the flash was seen as far away as Belarus.

A NASA satellite should fall at the same time, but not over Ukraine

NASA had previously said its Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) satellite, a defunct spacecraft sent into orbit to analyze solar flares, would collapse into our atmosphere within days.

Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who tracks objects falling into the atmosphere, said in a tweet Wednesday that it was impossible for the satellite to have caused the flash.

“The bright flash seen over Kiev has NOTHING to do with the re-entry of NASA’s RHESSI satellite, whose orbit is no closer to Ukraine than thousands of kilometers,” he said.

The re-entry of the 660-pound satellite posed no threat to human life, as it was intended to burn up in the atmosphere upon crashing to Earth.

The flash looks like a meteor, an expert said

A meteor that fell over Chelyabinsk in 2013. Youtube/Tuvix72

While experts still can’t confirm the cause, there are a few theories.

The flash has all the telltale signs of a meteor, Sam Rolfe, an astronomer at the University of Hertfordshire, told Insider on Thursday.

“It looks pretty much like a standard fireball, a chunk of space rock larger 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 soccer ball or a washing machine dissipating when it hits the atmosphere, Rolfe said. It could also be a meteorite, an object so large that it doesn’t completely burn up in the atmosphere like the one seen over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013.

This may be a factor in the Earth going through a dust cloud causing the Lyrids meteor showers at the moment, although it’s impossible to know for sure.

There are surveillance systems that monitor objects that might land on Earth, but these tend not to track smaller objects. It’s also possible that the rock was larger but was between the surveillance system and the sun, making it very difficult to spot.

While fireballs look pretty spectacular, they’re not uncommon, Rolfe said.

“Human beings witnessing something like this is probably pretty rare, but considering how often it happens around the world, there’s probably at least one, if not more, every day. But many of them will happen over the open ocean,” they said.

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