TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A piece of space junk burned up over the western U.S. on Tuesday, Dec. 22, creating a firestorm on social media.
Seen over Arizona, Nevada, and California, a fireball streaked across the sky as a Russian rocket body booster, launched the day before, hit the Earth's atmosphere, creating enough friction for that debris to catch fire and break apart before reaching the ground.
Scenes like this are possible more and more as space junk piles up in orbit. According to NASA, 500,000 pieces of man-made debris are currently circling the Earth. Some of this debris can lose orbit and eventually burn up as it hits the Earth's atmosphere, just like the Russian rocket body booster.
To track space debris, check out StuffIn.Space. It's an online interactive model of the Earth and the objects in orbit.