Reentry of 39-year-old Soviet satellite recorded in southern Brazil

Tempo de leitura: 4 min


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A Soviet spy satellite that had been in orbit for nearly 40 years re-entered the atmosphere late on Monday, January 3, over southern Brazil. The phenomenon was spotted by the cameras of BRAMON, the Brazilian Meteor Observation Network, Clima ao Vivo, and also by several people who recorded in its cell phones the the incandescent fragmentation of the satellite in sky. Check out the videos:

Several testimonies were published on social networks reporting the sighting of a large and slow fireball crossing the skies of Paraná, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul and even Uruguay. Many thought it was a meteor or just another pass from SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. But, from the analysis of the videos, BRAMON concluded that it was the re-entry of the Cosmos 1437 satellite (NORAD id 13770).

Cosmos 1437 was a Soviet spy satellite launched on January 20, 1983 in a Vostok-2M rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the former Soviet Union. Its orbit had been deteriorating for some time and its re-entry was scheduled to take place this Monday night, January 3, 2022. Both the time, trajectory and characteristics of the fireball sighted in southern Brazil are compatible with re-entry of Cosmos 1437.

Satélite Cosmos 1437 antes do lançamento - Créditos: Anatoly Zak /

A satellite like Cosmos 1437 before launch – Credits: Anatoly Zak /

It’s very difficult to predict the exact time and location of an object’s re-entry, but Aerospace has managed to do this with enviable accuracy. Based on orbital data obtained 3 hours earlier, Aerospace predicted the re-entry of Cosmos 1437 over Brazil at 00:02 (UTC) this Monday (3rd). In this exact time, BRAMON JJS2/SC station in Monte Castelo registered the satellite reentering our atmosphere.

Previsão de reentrada do Satélite Cosmos 1437 - Fonte: Aerospace

Cosmos 1437 re-entry prediction – Source: Aerospace

According to BRAMON, the re-entry of Cosmos 1437 did not put the population on the ground at risk. Much of its constituent material was vaporized during the atmospheric passage. Only the most massive and resistant parts are able to resist the heat of re-entry, but these probably fell into the ocean, after crossing the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul.


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