back to article Fireball in Tasmania: Possible CubeSat re-entry sparks alien panic

A small satellite burning up in the atmosphere has led to big excitement. As the skies lit up over Tasmania on the morning of February 28, so did Facebook with speculation that included - sigh - alien interventions. The reality looks far more prosaic: a Lemur-2 CubeSat owned by Spire Global came to Earth. Between September …

  1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Invasive species!

    The air-dropped lemurs might be welcome if they eat rabbits or cane toads.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Invasive species!

      And we all know how well using alien species to devour alien species goes!

      1. Symon Silver badge

        Re: Invasive species!

        I know an old woman who swallowed a fly.

  2. Skymonrie

    Seeking expert knowledge

    Genuine question: Would something so small be able to create such a fireball as shown in the picture or is that a screenshot from some sci-fi film?

    Having a quick look on the NASA website "Space rocks smaller than about 25 meters (about 82 feet) will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere and cause little or no damage." I'm sure materials have a lot do with effect and that is part of why the website is so generic.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Seeking expert knowledge

      Excellent question.

      This stuff is moving far more slowly (7.8 km/s) than interplanetary rocks normally do (Near-Earth Asteroids between 20 and 40 km/s, not at all normally distributed according to this paper). This is likely to result in a longer, yellower event.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seeking expert knowledge

        While walking the dog a few years ago, I saw an interesting flamey thing in the sky. I know stuff in the sky fairly well, and it didn't really fit into the categories of stuff I've seen many times before (satellites, meteors, space alien craft from beyond the moon etc). Thought it might have been a fireball, which interested me enough to go to some fireball forum on line. Posted my experience. Turns out what I saw was a Proton Rocket body burning up. Which would have been much larger than a cubesat naturally. It did produce a much longer event than any meteor, and I assume due to the relative closeness, it's apparent speed in the sky was faster than, say the ISS. Anyway, even a rocket body didn't look anything like that plane, let alone a tiny cube.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Seeking expert knowledge

      Same thought here - that looks awful big to be a cubesat of a couple of kg and shoe-box size.

  3. Bubba Von Braun

    Its an aircraft contrail

    I have seen this type of contrail before over the Nevada desert early dawn, late evening, with the right atmospheric conditions you don't get condensation, but the exhaust trail reflects the sun's light in the vapor from the jet exhaust.

    A cube sat would not create a fireball that large or prolonged.

    A similar effect can be seen in Yosemite Horsetail Falls..

    No rocket science to be seen here.. move along

  4. Stevie Silver badge


    I'd just like to say "G'Day" to our new alien overlords, mate.

  5. julianh72
    Black Helicopters

    If you watch the video of the event, you can see that it is in fact a jet contrail, being under-lit from a very low angle by the dawn sun.

    And yes, there was a confirmed Emirates A380 flying over Hobart at the time the video was taken. (But of course, the government WOULD say that, wouldn't they, if they wanted to keep the truth under wraps.)

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Swamp Gas!

      So why doesn't this happen every other day?

      Or is Hobart rarely visited by aircraft?

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: Swamp Gas!

        @ Destroy All Monsters - Because you only get the right kind of contrail if the mind-control drugs aren't added. There were recent supply problems.

        1. PNGuinn

          Re: Swamp Gas!

          "There were recent supply problems."

          In Tasmania, with all them opium poppies?

      2. julianh72

        Re: Swamp Gas!

        "So why doesn't this happen every other day?"

        It does - I suggest you do a Google search for "contrail fireball", and check out some of the linked videos and images.

        (Of course, all this "evidence" that these fireballs are really just jet planes is EXACTLY what the global governments want us to believe - when in fact, they are in direct communication with the aliens.)

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Swamp Gas!

          (Of course, all this "evidence" that these fireballs are really just jet planes is EXACTLY what the global governments want us to believe - when in fact, they are in direct communication with the aliens.

          I heard the aliens won't talk to us because of some stupidity among government leaders... or at least the memes says that.

  6. Magani


    That is all.

  7. Barely registers


    According to the linked SatView site, LEMUR-2 NATE has re-entered, but not over Tasmania.

    Reentry: (YMD) 2017-02-27 2016 41598U 52� 158 149 88 Reentered! Lat=22 Lon=346.7

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    '75% sure' - The Dunning-Kruger effect right there

    People over estimate their own capabilites as a function of their intellect

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Pining for Madagascar

    It is an ex Lemur

  11. A. Coatsworth

    So "cubesats" is the new "weather balloons"? They are testing if the new excuse is believable in remote regions, before deploying it for the masses. Expect to see this explanation more and more in the future!

    *Cue X-Files theme*

  12. ukgnome Silver badge

    I do worry about the amount of junk that can potentially fall on our heads.

  13. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    IIRC, last year (or the year before that?) there was a bit of a hubbub on "the coast" * about something that looked like an unannounced rocket launch, but turned out to be just a contrail as well.

    * as if it was the only one...

  14. mordred

    Its a a bird, its Superman, no IT IS A PLANE!!!

    I was here in Sorell near Hobart and saw it vas it passed over head. I heard the plane while out on a walk look up SAW THE PLANE overhead and then checked flight radar to find out where it was going, an Emirates A380 headed for Auckland from Dubai. The conditions were unusually clear with no clouds in the sky at all and the rising sun over the horizon was illuminating it beautifully. The people took the video filmed it minutes later after it had passed so the plane is hidden by the contrail. I mean, what satellite is going to take nearly half an hour to cross the sky!!

  15. PNGuinn

    OK - explain this

    Many years ago (a little over 40?) I was cycling home one night about midnight from, if I remember rightly, a Mayor's Charity Function.

    I was stone cold sober - I don't drink. The road (and the entire area) was well lit in low pressure orange sodium light.

    Getting on for a mile to the north was a block of flats in the middle of a small low rise council housing estate, farmland behind that.

    Above and I think possibly behind the block of flats, some way above it, I saw a neon red evenly illuminated circular disk, falling slowly.

    There was no sound. The disk could have been spherical, but all I could see was a disk. At the time I guessed that, if it was as far away as the flats it would be some 30 - 40 feet in diameter. At the time I got the impression that it was further away. It certainly wasn't nearer. As I approached northwards (remember I was getting on for a mile away) I had a clear view. I watched for getting on for a minute or so and then deliberately looked down for a good few seconds. (was I seeing things?) When I looked up again the thing was still there, it appeared to be on the same trajectory. It suddenly disappeared, and reappeared a couple of seconds later as two smaller circular disks / spheres, still on the same trajectory. A few seconds later both disappeared, just as suddenly, and did not reappear. They had not fallen behind any obstruction. That was it.

    My original impression was of spheres, but when I thought about what I had seen I realised that that was assumption - 2d object(s) just seemed implausible.

    Now I mention the lp sodium street lighting because these things were clearly a neon red, so it could not have been reflected light. The illumination was very even.

    My route took me to the left out of sight of scene, to traffic lights over the A12. I backtracked to a road skirting the farmland on the far side of the flats and estate. All calm, horses in field calm etc. Went home to bed and sleep.

    I was not that tired, was cycling, so wide awake. I am not prone to seeing things. My first thought was some kind of balloon, but why so evenly illuminated, and how could a balloon disappear and then reappear as 2 balloons?

    Weather was good.

    No other reports in the news etc. But it was late.

    I've never forgotten the event and I'd dearly like to know what I saw. I'm not a "UFO freak".

    Anyone any ideas?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OK - explain this


  16. wayne 8

    desktop edition

    I considered that this was an article about another distro of linux.


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