SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s a piece of space junk — WT1190F — and it collided with Earth on Friday, the 13th.
WT1190F entered the atmosphere south of Sri Lanka around 11:49 a.m. local time (10:19 p.m. PST), but was not visible to local residents because of overcast skies.READ MORE: Calls For Justice As Suspects In Asian American Attacks Appear In San Francisco Court - 'We Are Watching'
However, the fireball was seen by U.S. and German astronomers aboard a Gulfstream 450 business jet specifically chartered for the event.
WT1190F was orbiting beyond the moon, and according to a report in the science journal Nature, was “glimpsed by a telescope in early October.”READ MORE: San Jose Police Investigate Shooting Downtown In Hyde Park Neighborhood
Scientists say it is three to six feet long and man-made.
As for exactly where it came from, there is speculation it could be some 50-year old spent rocket, or perhaps a piece of “paneling shed by a recent moon mission.” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard called it “a lost piece of space history that’s come back to haunt us.”MORE NEWS: COVID Vaccine: Santa Clara County Ramps Up Effort With Dose Surplus
According to NASA there are more than half a million pieces of debris orbiting Earth at speeds up to 17,500 mph.