A flurry of Starlink satellite debris falling to Earth after being struck down by a geomagnetic solar storm is shown in stunning footage of the skies above the Caribbean.
The Caribbean Astronomical Society (SAC) captured the footage of the satellites’ dramatic re-entry into Earth's atmosphere above Puerto Rico on February 7, around 2:40 am local time.
The SAC says that several experts who studied the trajectory of the satellites have since confirmed that the footage does appear to show the Starlink satellites breaking up into many fragments as they hit Earth’s atmosphere. The video also indicates that one of the satellites most likely disintegrated over the island.
Starlink is a constellation of internet satellites operated by SpaceX that “beam down” broadband internet across the globe. Each satellite is approximately 3.2 meters (10.5 feet) by 1.6 meters (5.25 feet) and weighs around 260 kilograms (573 pounds).
SpaceX launched 49 new Starlink satellites on February 3, but lost at least 40 of them the following day due to some sketchy space weather.
The fledgling fleet of satellites was hit by a geomagnetic, causing the atmosphere to warm and atmospheric density to increase. This increased drag by over 50 percent and prevented the satellites from leaving safe mode, forcing them to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. The satellites burned up during this re-entry, meaning little to no debris hit the ground.
As you can see though, it created quite the visual display.