Fireball by Starlink reentry on January 23th


This impressive fireball was generated as a result of the reentry into the atmosphere of a Starlink satellite on January 23, at about 22:59 local time (equivalent to 21:59 universal time).

The satellite had a mass of 260 kg and was launched by SpaceX on January 24, 2021. A large number of casual eyewitnesses could see the spectacular event that crossed the Spanish sky among many others.

This phenomenon was recorded in the framework of the SMART project, operated by the Southwestern Europe Meteor Network (SWEMN) from the meteor-observing stations located at Calar Alto, Sierra Nevada, Sevilla, La Sagra (Granada), Huelva, El Aljarafe, and La Hita (Toledo). 

The event has been analyzed by the principal investigator of the SMART project: Dr. Jose M. Madiedo, from the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC).

• Type of Event: Starlink satellite reentry.
• Initial estimated speed: 27.000 km/h.
• Initial altitude of luminous part of the event: 100 km.

The image on the top left shows the path above the ground this object followed which began at a height of around 100 km over the north of Morocco and moved northwest, crossing the whole Iberian Peninsula. It ended over the Cantabrian Sea.

Below are the videos registered with the external cameras operated at Calar Alto Observatory in Almería.





Calar Alto (CAHA) fireball detection station, together with the one at the Observatory of Sierra Nevada (IAA-CSIC) and others placed at different locations in Spain, are part of the S.M.A.R.T. project led by Professor José María Madiedo (IAA) to track that kind of objects. Specifically, Calar Alto (CAHA) station and the one at Sierra Nevada (IAA-CSIC) constitute a collaboration agreement between the IAA researcher José María Madiedo and both institutions.