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Monash expert: Space junk

Monash University < 1 mins read

A Monash University expert is available to comment on the space junk seen in the night sky over Melbourne last night as it re-entered the atmosphere.

Associate Professor Michael Brown, School of Physics and Astronomy
Contact details: +61 420 989 973 or 
Read more commentary by Michael Brown at Monash Lens

The following can be attributed to Associate Professor Brown:

“A piece of space junk produced a spectacular light show over Melbourne just before midnight last night. As the rocket was travelling at several kilometres every second as it entered the atmosphere, it experienced vast forces that heated and broke up the rocket, producing a spectacular light show. 

“Space junk reentries are sometimes confused with meteors, which are also spectacular but are usually far shorter events as they slam into the atmosphere at a much faster speed.”

“The space junk was the upper stage of a Russian Soyuz 2 rocket, which had helped launch a Glonass navigation satellite on Monday. Another Soyuz rocket reentered over Melbourne in 2014, and some pieces of the rocket were found in rural New South Wales sometime after.

“Video posted on social media indicates the rocket was travelling roughly south during its reentry and away from Melbourne. It is possible that small pieces of the rocket crashed to earth or into the sea, but it’s rare for space junk to damage property.”

For any other topics on which you may be seeking expert comment, contact the Monash University Media Unit on +61 3 9903 4840 or

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