A ‘lucky’ rock from space was recently observed skimming the Earth’s atmosphere, which slipped without disintegrating and then moved away from our planet.
The meteoroid was detected in the early hours of September 22 over northern Germany and the Netherlands, reaching an altitude of 91 kilometers, far below any satellite in orbit, before “bouncing” in space, reports ESA.
A meteoroid is typically a fragment of a comet or asteroid that turns into a meteor, a bright light that passes through the sky, when it enters the atmosphere. Most of them disintegrate, possibly with pieces that hit the ground like meteorites. This lucky visitor, however, didn’t go down low enough to burn out completely and managed to escape again, just skimming the edges of our planet’s gaseous protective shield.
These ‘scraper’ objects don’t happen very often, only a handful of times a year, compared to the thousands of meteors we observe in the same period, only the largest ones hit the ground as meteorites. The lucky object was detected by cameras on the Global Meteor Network, a project that aims to cover the world with meteorite cameras and provide the public with real-time alerts, building an image of the meteorite environment around the Earth.
Tens of thousands of meteorites have been found on Earth, however, of these only about 40 can be traced back to a parent asteroid or an asteroid source. By better understanding these little bodies, we can build a more complete picture of the Solar System, including potentially dangerous asteroids, meteor shower bursts that could threaten satellites, as well as the chemistry and origins of our Solar System.