While astronomers are waiting for OSIRIS-Rex to bring back samples from asteroid Bennu, other asteroids are fooling around Earth’s atmosphere. It is the case with the amateur footage taken of the sky event that took place in the sky of Germany. The bright event was visible in the Netherlands also.
Over 200 witness reports were received by the International Meteor Organization from across northern Europe. IMO confirmed it was most likely a meteorite. “Fireballs are meteors that appear brighter than normal.”
A meteorite is a solid piece of debris from an object, such as a comet, asteroid, or meteoroid, that survived its passage through the atmosphere to reach the surface of a planet.
A meteor explosion over Germany caught on dashcam
Most of them disintegrate when entering the Earth’s atmosphere due to combined powers: friction, pressure, and chemical interactions with the atmospheric gases which cause it to heat up and radiate energy. At this point, the meteorite becomes a meteor and forms a fireball, also known as a shooting star or falling star.
It was a small event, which should cause no reason for worries. But events such as this are reminders of the real threat: asteroid collision. Even though the possibility of a sequel of the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event is not feasible, asteroids like Bennu pose a big threat.
The Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event occurred 66 million years ago. An asteroid collision with planet Earth provoked the extinction of the dinosaurs. Bennu is smaller by comparison but it could still turn to dust an entire country.
Although we are safe for the next 125 years, and it is more likely for Bennu to hit Venus rather than Earth, astronomers don’t like the chances. So, OSIRIS-Rex is on its mission to collect enough data to help the astronomers deflect Bennu from its collision course with Earth if this were the case.