Exploding Breeze-M rocket body

An animation made up of photos taken over half an hour. The cadence of the original photo taking varied, hence the varying speed in this animation. The debris from the explosion can be seen expanding from the rocket body, and other Earth-orbiting satellites at lower altitude can be seen passing through the field. The brightness of the plume varies as it fades and moves away in its elliptical orbit, but the sudden jumps in brightness and the appearance of more small objects later in the animation is due to increasing effective exposure, both ISO and exposure time increase.
20MB animated GIF

Initially thought to be related to the recent Themis launch, this object has been ID'd with the help of the US Air Force Space Surveillance System personel, and turns out to be an exploding Breeze-M rocket body. They later detected over 500 individual pieces on RADAR. The following day over 1100 peices were resolved by the RADAR. The image below is a median of several images of the rocket burn and a swarm of bits within it. A median was used to help cancel out the background star images, but differential motion of the individual pieces has blurred the ones furthest from the ones used for the manual image alignment.

Images Copyright © 2007 Gordon Garradd


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