• Dozens of Starlink satellites were knocked out by a geomagnetic storm on Feb. 4
  • A camera in Puerto Rico captured a space debris reentry event on Feb. 7
  • Experts believe the space debris was among the fallen Starlink satellites

A recent geomagnetic storm knocked out dozens of newly launched Starlink satellites. A video captured in Puerto Rico shows a stunning satellite reentry event.

SpaceX confirmed Tuesday that about 40 out of the 49 satellites it launched on Feb. 3 had been knocked out due to a geomagnetic storm on Feb. 4. Although the satellites were adjusted to an evasive maneuver in an attempt to protect them from the space weather event, the satellites were still "severely impacted" and were expected to reenter the atmosphere.

In Puerto Rico, a camera that belongs to the network of the Sociedad de Astronomia del Caribe (SAC) captured the reentry and disintegration of these satellites. The footage, which was taken at around 2.40 a.m. AST (1.40 a.m. EST) on Feb. 7, shows what appears to be space debris reentering the atmosphere and disintegrating.

The organization in a statement (translated to English via Google Translate) noted that the sighting may have been related to the 40 satellites lost to the geomagnetic storm and added that experts had confirmed that the trajectory of the satellites placed them over Puerto Rico on the morning of the sighting.

"This suggests that one or more Starlink satellites may have disintegrated over the skies of the island," SAC noted.

Marco Langbroek, a satellite expert from the Netherlands, wrote on his blog that the video "shows what clearly is a satellite reentry," noting that it could be showing one object that separated into two pieces earlier, or perhaps two separate objects that happened to be "close together in the same orbital plane."

According to Langbroek, someone suggested that perhaps the object might have been a Falcon 9 rocket stage from a 2017 launch as it had also been expected to reenter the atmosphere around the same date and set to pass over Puerto Rico around that time. However, his analysis left "very little doubt" that the event is linked to the Starlink satellites.

"The reentering object(s) can be identified as belonging to a batch of 49 Starlink satellites launched on 3 February 2022, two-and a half days before the reentry sighting from Puerto Rico," Langbroek explained.

"Though it remains to be seen which of the 40 satellites it actually was, the Feb 7, 6:40 UT, Puerto Rico sighting can be positively linked to this deluge of decaying Starlink satellites," he added.

Having 40 satellites reentering in a span of just a week is quite "unique," Langbroek said further. As such, the chances of spotting such reentry events may be "larger than usual."

According to SpaceX, the satellites pose "zero collision risk." As the satellites are built to disintegrate upon reentry, no debris are expected to reach the ground. The U.K. Space Agency has also noted on its blog that there is "virtually no risk to Earth."

"(H)owever the UK Space Agency and the MOD's Space Operations Centre have continued to closely monitor the re-entry of the satellites," the agency noted.

This long-exposure image shows a trail of a group of SpaceX's Starlink satellites passing over Uruguay on February 7, 2021
This long-exposure image shows a trail of a group of SpaceX's Starlink satellites passing over Uruguay on February 7, 2021 AFP / Mariana SUAREZ