Arturo Plata, the director of the Santander Industrial University (UIS) Halley Group of Astronomy and Aerospace Science, said that a section of the Russian Progress M-06 satellite broke away from the module while it was attempting to connect to the International Space Station on August 31.
His hypothesis is that some of the fragments may have entered the earth’s atmosphere, which would explain the numerous eyewitness accounts in the Santander department of a fireball, which fell out of the sky and caused a massive explosion at 3:15PM local time Sunday.
Plata said that “the noise heard in Santander would have occurred because the passage of an object through the air produces a sound wave, which is heard after the object is seen because [the object] travels faster than the speed of sound.”
Police commander General Yesid Vasquez announced that the search for the remnants of the fireball had been called off. Colombian air force helicopters had been commissioned to fly over the area to try to locate the object.
Fragments that may be the remains of the “giant fireball” are being studied by the Sergio Arboleda University’s Astronomic Observatory.
Raul Joya from the observatory said he believes it is more probable that the object was a meteorite than a fragment of space junk. He said it will take up to a month to determine the composition of the pieces of matter that have been collected.