A series of night-time photos were taken by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli on 5 November around 22:33 GMT, here shown in a time-lapse with a 1-second interval, while the Space Station was flying from the southern Atlantic Ocean over to Kazakhstan.
Paolo was lucky enough to capture a fast fireball falling to Earth over the Atlantic Ocean, off the South Africa west coast -- look closely between 00:07 and 00:08 seconds at upper right in this video.
A fireball is basically a very bright meteoroid -- a small bit of natural “space rock” -- entering Earth’s atmosphere and burning brighter than the background stars. This particular meteoroid was moving much faster than typical, with an estimated speed of around 40 km/s, according to experts working on near-Earth objects (NEOs) in ESA's Space Situational Awareness Programme.
"This speed is actually quite fast for meteoroids, which typically enter the atmosphere at around 20 km/s," says Rüdiger Jehn, SSA NEO segment co-manager.
ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli in currently working and living on board the International Space Station as part of the Italian Space Agency’s long duration VITA mission.