Mystery as ‘strange flash’ lights up Kyiv night sky and Nasa denies claims it was planned crash of satellite

20 April 2023, 11:07 | Updated: 20 April 2023, 11:38

A mysterious light was visible above Kyiv
A mysterious light was visible above Kyiv. Picture: Social media

By Emma Soteriou

A mysterious flash of light and a streak of burning debris illuminated the skies above Ukraine's capital on Wednesday night.

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The strange flash was spotted in the sky over Kyiv at about 10pm local time, alarming residents and prompting authorities to activate the city’s air raid alarms.

Kyiv’s city military administration head Serhii Popko initially said that the light was believed to be from falling Nasa satellite debris.

But Nasa denied that was the case and suggested it was instead a meteorite.

Ukraine’s Air Force said it was confident it was not a Russian air attack, despite the city already being on edge after months of Russian missile attacks.

Read more: Chilling video shows Russian Wagner commanders admit killing children as young as five in execution campaign in Ukraine

Read more: British special forces 'operating in Ukraine', leaked US documents claim, but ministers warn against 'disinformation'

Nasa had said earlier in the week that its retired 300kg RHESSI satellite used to observe solar flares would re-enter the atmosphere on Wednesday.

It predicted the spacecraft to re-enter the atmosphere at about 8.50pm EDT on Wednesday.

However, the space agency's Office of Communications said the satellite was still in orbit at the time the flash was reported from Ukraine, adding that the US defence department and the American space agency continued to track RHESSI.

RHESSI - short for the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager - rocketed into orbit in 2002 to study the sun.

Before being shut down in 2018 because of communication problems, the satellite observed solar flares as well as coronal mass ejections from the sun.

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell echoed comments from Nasa on Thursday, saying that the bright flash seen over Kyiv had “NOTHING TO DO with the reentry of Nasa’s RHESSI satellite”.

He said the satellite’s orbit did not come within even “thousands of kilometres of Ukraine”.

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