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Flashes in the sky: How the lightning sensor on a weather satellite can also track Meteoroids
20 July 2018
What do lightning strikes and meteoroids zipping through space have in common? It turns out they both can be tracked from a weather satellite. Scientists have discovered that the Geostationary Lightning Mapper on NOAA's GOES-16 and GOES-17 satellites sees more than just lightning flashes in our skies.
Meteoroids routinely bombard Earth's atmosphere from outer space. These small rock fragments, which come from comets or asteroids orbiting the sun, hurtle through space at speeds reaching 100,000 mph or more. When they enter our atmosphere as meteors, their resistance with the surrounding air creates intense heat, which in most cases vaporizes them to dust long before they reach the ground.
Image credit: CC - A large meteor bolts across the sky in Southern Australia 24 on April, 2011