A mysterious ball of light soared over the Las Vegas skyline Tuesday evening, and before you ask - no, it wasn't the same object the NORAD will be tracking later this week.
In a Facebook post, the United States Strategic Command explains that the flash of light was actually a Russian SL-4 rocket body burning up as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere.
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The flaming junk, which first appeared around 6:00 p.m. local time, was visible across parts of Nevada and California. Dazzled stargazers throughout the region took to social media to share their accounts of the unexpected show.
There are more than 21,000 pieces of space debris larger than 4 inches across currently orbiting Earth. As part of its Space-Track.org initiative, the USSC maintains a comprehensive database of 16,000 of these "on-orbit cataloged objects," tracking their movement until they burn up.
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"That service is a key element of our commitment to provide space situational awareness for spaceflight safety," the agency explains.
Little can be done about the debris currently in orbit; space agencies around the planet are actively investigating ways to minimize the amount of orbital debris that future missions leave behind.
This blog originally appeared on DSCOVRD.