Shooting meteoroid sparks flare in Yakutian skies - scientists

A meteoroid shot off in a meteor explosion sparked the bright flare above the Vilyuisk district of Yakutia, scientists said.

A meteoroid shot off in a meteor explosion sparked the bright flare above the Vilyuisk district of Yakutia, scientists said.

"It has been established that the meteor exploded at an altitude of 20 kilometers. Its fragments were scattered over an area between the villages of Kyrgydai, Balagaccha and Kysyl-Syr," the Yakutian Ecology Ministry reported, quoting the Shafer Institute of Cosmophysical Research and Aeronomy of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Officers of the Yakutian department of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, the Rescue Service and the Yakutian Ecology Ministry organized the search for meteorite pieces on March 20.

"Snow samples were taken in three sectors and gamma emission levels were measured. Gamma emissions did not differ from the background levels characteristic of this area," the report said.

A bright flare recorded by surveillance cameras appeared in the skies of Yakutia's Vilyuisk district on March 5.

The Yakutian Ecology Ministry filed inquiries with the Federal Space Agency and the Aerospace Defense Forces. But a Federal Space Agency representative said on the phone no space launches were made from Baikonur and Plesetsk on March 5.

Local residents heatedly debated the news in social networks. Bloggers presumed that the flare and the thud might have come from the explosion of a meteor or a part of an aircraft or a space rocket.

Shafer Institute of Cosmophysical Research and Aeronomy Academic Secretary Georgy Makarov said it might have been a meteorite.

He also said institute specialists would visit the area from where the flare had been reported.

A meteoroid or a meteoric body is a celestial body with a size between cosmic dust and an asteroid. The visible trail from a meteorite that enters the Earth's atmosphere is called a meteor, and a meteoroid that falls over the Earth is called a meteorite.

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