Astromaterials Research & Exploration Science
METEORITE FALLS

HANFORD, CA SATELLITE DE-ORBIT

HANFORD, CA SATELLITE DE-ORBIT

HANFORD, CA SATELLITE DE-ORBIT

DATE/TIME

10/11/2018 @ 01:15 AM

10/11/2018
01:15 AM

LAT/LONG

36.324251 • -119.619102

36.324251
-119.619102

Landing site calculations are not possible for satellite debris, but an approximate 'strewn field' is shown as an orange triangle.

STREWN FIELD

Landing site calculations are not possible for satellite debris, but an approximate 'strewn field' is shown as an orange triangle.

SUMMARY

This event was a satellite de-orbit that occurred at 01:15 AM local time on 11 October 2018, or 08:15 11 Oct 2018 UTC. The fireball moved slowly across the sky, visibly shedding a large number of smaller pieces. This behavior is consistent with a space debris re-entry rather than the fast-moving, short-lived event produced by a meteor. 30 eyewitnesses reported it to the American Meteor Society across California. Two eyewitnesses reported hearing sonic booms from the falling debris.

At least one piece of the satellite has been recovered from this event and was reported in local media (opens in a new window):

https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article220259570.html

This event is recorded as American Meteor Society event number 4094 for 2018. Signatures of falling meteorites can be found in imagery from four nearby weather radars. In the NEXRAD weather radar network operated by NOAA, the KHNX (San Joaquin Valley, CA), KVBX (Vandenburg AFB, CA), KEYX (Edwards, CA), and KVTX (Los Angeles, CA) radars record signatures of falling debris.

While it is possible to calculate the mass of falling meteorites seen in weather radar data, it is currently not possible to perform the same calculation for falling satellite debris. This is because meteorites are fairly homogenous – they are composed of a single type of material and have pretty much the same shape. Satellite debris is composed of materials ranging from metals to lightweight insulation, and come in all manner of shapes – spheres, rods, pieces of fabric, etc. Because radar does not tell us what type or shape each piece is, we cannot calculate its mass at present. Debris falls tend to cover a much longer fall area, however, because satellites move much slower than meteors and usually enter the atmosphere at a very flat trajectory. The ground path of this debris fall is almost 200 km long, and larger material quite likely landed farther north, according to eyewitness accounts. By comparison, most meteorite falls are only about 10 or 20 km in length.

The Orbital Debris Office here at NASA Johnson Space Center studies material and events like the one depicted here, in order to understand the threat posed to spacecraft and astronauts by orbital debris.  To learn more, have a look at their website: https://www.orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/ 

LEARN MORE

RADAR & MAPS

This composite image shows all the radar signatures from falling debris as blue/gray polygons. The approximate ground track is a yellow line. The large scale makes the radar signatures appear small.

RADAR SUMMARY

This composite image shows all the radar signatures from falling debris as blue/gray polygons. The approximate ground track is a yellow line. The large scale makes the radar signatures appear small.

GET DIRECTIONS

Click on the View larger map link that is displayed in the address box above in order to get directions to the strewn field area.

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METEORITES 101

This step-by-step guide will show you how to locate possible meteorite fall sites using radar software and weather data along with info provided by reporting agencies and monitoring systems.
These instructions will show you how to best preserve the meteorites you discover and how to make contact with the organizations that are willing to accept and analyze your find.
Don't know exactly what a meteorite is, what they are made of or where they come from? If that's the case, we have provided a mini-"crash" course in what you need to know about them.
It turns out that meteorites have provided us a lot of scientific insight, not only into the origins of our solar system and planet Earth, but what the future might hold for mankind.
There's a lot going on in the study of meteorites, both here at NASA and in other places. Here are a few links to the people and institutions who are leading the research in this field.
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