This morning, a piece of space junk given the designation “WTF” – technically WT1190F – crashed into the Earth. Fortunately, it didn’t make much of a mess: It splashed down as predicted into the Indian Ocean, just off the Sri Lankan coast, at 06:18 GMT today.
As we are living in the age of the omnipresent smartphone, even this relatively small debris’ swan song through our atmosphere was recorded by a bunch of people who just happened to be nearby.
— Observing Space (@ObservingSpace) November 13, 2015
Just in case the mysterious space debris was going to land on anyone’s heads, the European Space Agency has been tracking the object ever since its orbit started to degrade. They’re not entirely sure what it is; however, it’s likely to be a used fuel tank that once powered a rocket into space, which was then routinely discarded.
Image credit: A map tracking the predicted trajectory of WTF. BPEarthWatch
Far from being outdone by people with their smartphones, the International Astronomical Center (IAC) and the United Arab Emirates Space Agency sent some of their scientists onto a plane and filmed the artificial shooting star from the air.
As you can see, it was quite the light show.
— Alan Boyle (@b0yle) November 13, 2015