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Montevideo, February 25th 2018 - 21:07 UTC

Meteorite trail surprises P. Arenas and Tierra del Fuego

Friday, July 18th 2008 - 21:00 UTC
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It is almost confirmed that the bright flash seen last Monday night in great parts of Magallaes region, included Tierra del Fuego in the extreme south of Chile was a meteorite.

Residents throughout the region: in Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales and in Tierra del Fuego Porvenir recall seeing at approximately 10:30 p.m. a bright flash in the night sky. Witnesses then heard a loud crack, presumably the result of the meteorite breaking the sound barrier as it passed over the region, reported the local press. The head of the Punta Arenas Airport, Jan Carlo Onetto, confirmed that the unidentified flying object was not of human origin. "In the four years I've lived in the area, the radars have never before detected something that wasn't a plane," he said. "I think it was a meteorite that entered the zone at high speed and broke the sound barrier, thus producing the loud crack. People are assuming it fell somewhere south of here. It may have fallen in the Straights (of Magellan) or further south." Onetto's theory was corroborated by Chilean Antarctic Institute scientist Stefan Kraus, who told Radio Polar that the object was likely a "stony" meteorite, the most common type. "All the data collected and the observations so far, confirm it", he added. "The fire ball, the stellar trail and the loud sound which was reported are typical of this kind of phenomenon in any part of the world; so we can say it was a meteorite", said Krauss who nevertheless pointed out it would very difficult to trace any tiny rests on the soil and if so, "it would be extremely lucky". "Tiny pieces must have spread over miles of open range, many kilometers from Punta Arenas and in unpopulated areas of Patagonia", said Krauss.

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