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Stunning time-lapse captures ‘fireball,’ massive lightning storm from ISS

Stunning ISS time-lapse captures ‘fireball,’ huge lightning storm
WATCH ABOVE: European Space Agency captures "fireball" and lightning storm on one unbelievable time-lapse video

An amazing time-lapse video taken by a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut on board the International Space Station (ISS) captured what appears to be a “fireball” entering the earth’s atmosphere, along with a massive lightning show.

A series of nighttime photos were taken by astronaut Paolo Nespoli on Nov. 5 and stitched together to create the impressive video.

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ESA experts believe the flash seen in the upper right corner of the time-lapse around the seven-second mark was a “fireball.”

“Indeed it looks like a bright meteor, or fireball,” Detlet Koschny, an expert at the ESA’s Space Situational Awareness Programm wrote on the agency’s website. “We call bright meteors (brighter than Venus), a fireball. I guess this would qualify as a fireball.”

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Koschny’s estimated the object spotted in the images was smaller than a metre in diametre, and suspected it was travelling very quickly, at around 32 kilometres per second.

“A meteor is the light you see when a meteoroid or asteroid enters the atmosphere,” Koschny explained in the post. “The object that causes it – the little piece of rock – is called ‘meteoroid’ if smaller than one metre, ‘asteroid’ if larger than one metre.”

This European Space Agency image appears to show fireball illuminating clouds from above, suggesting the object was close to the Earth’s limb.
This European Space Agency image appears to show fireball illuminating clouds from above, suggesting the object was close to the Earth’s limb. Credit: ESA/NASA

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Koschny added that the way the object illuminated the surrounding clouds, suggested it could have been a meteor or a piece of space debris entering at a steep angle.

The “fireball” was captured off the west coast of South Africa as the space station crossed the Earth from the southern Atlantic to Kazakhstan.

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A huge lightning storm could also be seen covering most of central Africa before the images captured the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.