FAA says Texas fireball was meteor, not a UFO

By Jeff Carlton
Associated Press

DALLAS -- The fireball that streaked across the sky and alarmed numerous Texas residents was likely just a big meteor and not wreckage from colliding satellites, experts said Monday.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Roland Herwig said the fireball seen across a wide stretch of the state Sunday morning probably was a natural phenomenon and not debris from last week's collision between an Iridium communications satellite and a Russian military space vehicle.

And Preston Starr, observatory manager at the University of North Texas, said it probably was a meteor about the size of a pickup truck with the consistency of a chunk of concrete.

The Williamson County sheriff's office in central Texas said it received so many emergency calls about the light in the sky that it sent deputies out in a helicopter to look for a plane crash.

The FAA had said during the weekend that the fireball possibly was caused by falling debris from the satellites. It also posted a weekend warning telling pilots to watch out for satellite debris but rescinded the warning Sunday, Herwig said.

Starr said the object's trajectory was wrong for it to have been satellite debris. And he said such objects would be too small and moving too slowly to produce a flare so widely visible during the day.

``It would have looked like a blip, and nobody would be able to notice if it were a daytime entry,'' Starr said.

Starr said objects as large as his estimate for the one spotted Sunday enter the atmosphere about eight or 10 times a year. It was probably moving between 15,000 and 40,000 mph, he said.

Despite its initial large size, if any of the object survived the fiery descent through the atmosphere, it would be smaller than a fist, he said.

Source: Pantagraph.com

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