Click For Photo: https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/mka3aknny4S9YfdGBML9SK-1200-80.jpg
A spent rocket stage that had been orbiting Earth since 2009 recently broke into bits, and an observatory in Spain captured footage of the new debris cloud as it traveled across a backdrop of stars.
The Deimos Sky Survey (DeSS), an astronomy complex in Madrid dedicated to detecting and evaluating the risk from near-Earth objects, spotted and recorded the unusual appearance of new space junk in the sky from March 26 to 28, the European Space Agency (ESA) said in a statement. Scientists used the observatory's "Antsy" optical sensor, "which is adapted for tracking objects in low-Earth orbit," according to the ESA.
Pieces - Debris - Cloud - Inches - Centimeters
About 40 to 60 pieces have been identified in the debris cloud, and many of them exceed 12 inches (30 centimeters) in diameter, the ESA reported.
RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU...
Astronomers - Debris - Colleagues - Sighting - March
Russian astronomers discovered the debris and informed their European colleagues about the sighting on March 26 at a meeting of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), according to DeSS. Experts determined that the cloud of space junk was formerly an Atlas V Centaur rocket, which launched on Sept. 9, 2009, bearing a U.S. communications satellite.
After the rocket's upper stage separated, the cylinder — measuring about 41 feet (12.5 meters) in length and weighing approximately 2 tons — settled into a stable orbit, where it could have remained "for centuries," DeSS reported.
Rocket - March - Cause - Breakup - ESA
But the discarded rocket disintegrated sometime between March 23 and 25, though the cause of its breakup is still unknown, according to the ESA.
"Leaving a trail of debris...
Wake Up To Breaking News!