Remarkable footage has been shared online of a rare “earthgrazer” meteor skimming close to the surface of our atmosphere, below orbiting weather and TV satellites, only to bounce back into space rather than following the fate of most meteors which is to burn up in the atmosphere in a blaze of “shooting stars”.
The video was shared by Global Meteor Network (GMN), according to the European Space Agency (ESA) announcement on Thursday.
Space rock skims Earth’s atmosphere, observed by the #globalmeteornetwork☄️— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) September 24, 2020
In the early hours of 22 Sept over North Germany & the Netherlands, a meteor got down to 91 km in altitude - far below orbiting satellites - before it "bounced" back into space
The “earthgrazer” was spotted over northern Germany and the Netherlands on 22 September at an altitude of 91km.
(2/2) It was on a Jupiter-family orbit (a = 2.56 AU, q = 0.29 AU, e = 0.88, i = 2.93, w = 239.67, O = 359.31). Parent body search found no conclusive hits. pic.twitter.com/zk1pe8wvNr— Denis Vida (@meteordoc) September 22, 2020
The incident when the meteor made its lucky escape from imminent disintegration was captured by cameras in the Global Meteor Network, which covers our planet with meteor-monitoring devices and informs the public via real-time alerts of impending space rock activity.
“The network is basically a decentralised scientific instrument, made up of amateur astronomers and citizen scientists around the S]ddddddddddd each with their own camera systems,” said GMN founder Denis Vida.
This lucky visitor, however, didn't get low enough to burn up completely and managed to escape again, only grazing the edges of our planet’s protective gassy shield#PlanetaryDefence🌍☄️— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) September 24, 2020
Meteors like the one in the footage, dubbed “earthgrazers”, are rare, occurring only a few times a year. Typically, thousands of meteors burn up when approaching Earth, leaving a few surviving fragments to plunge to the surface of our planet.