Re: Unidentified re-entry (?) over Venezuela

Alan Pickup (alan@wingar.demon.co.uk)
Tue, 12 Jan 1999 21:26:26 +0000

Chris Peat <Chris.Peat@dlr.de> writes
>I have had several messages from an observer in Aruba, Dutch Caribbean,
>regarding observations of a possible satellite re-entry at the end of
>December. I have suggested to him that he join the Seesat mailing list, but
>in the meantime, could anyone please help with the identification. Here is a
>summary of his e-mails (he also sent me photographs he took, but there was
>an error in the encoding and I couldn't see them).

<Forwarded message from Alfredo E. Pichardo snipped>

I know of no satellite re-entries that could have been visible from
Aruba at the times (December 29 18:48 local and December 31 23:16 local)
reported. The Cosmos 2335 re-entry was some 30 minutes later on the 31st
so, unless the observer has the wrong time, this is not one of the
events he saw.

One or both objects could have been a bright meteoric fireball or
aircraft. Indeed, the report contains several puzzling and apparently
contradictory elements and I find it hard to come up with better
explanations.

Of course, neither object could have been a comet which, contrary to
some popular misconceptions, looks and moves nothing like a bright
meteor or fireball.

It would be impossible to judge the altitude of an object seen under
such circumstances, yet we are led to believe that it was 200 miles high
and that this rules out an aircraft.

It was moving 5 to 7 times faster than any satellite known so far,
except possibly the "Colombia" Space Shuttle. Of course, the shuttles
*are* satellites when in orbit.

The story about "An astronomist <sic> said that it could have something
to do with the sun's intense heat basking the aluminum body of the
satellite, thus 'cooking' the thin upper-atmosphere that the satellite
may be cruising-in" is pure nonsense. 

Alan
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