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News of Zealand

“Sonic Boom” Interrupts North Canterbury Dinner Time

It came just hours after NASA announced it will begin taking applications from Kiwi students.
Image by Shutterstock. Not actually a picture of the suspected meteor. 

It was an ordinary Monday night. The Coster family were gathered in their lounge to watch the six o’clock news at their rural property in Sefton, North Canterbury. Suddenly they were interrupted by something a bit more exciting, a suspected meteor or space junk whizzing through the air.

Amanda Coster recalled hearing a "massive kind of rumble" or “sonic boom”. As their dogs burst into the room in a frenzy, the family feared another earthquake. But the view from their window confirmed it was something quite different. Coster said the unfamiliar object had a long trail and an "orange glow to it", and looked as though it was "burning up and coming down" as it headed towards Mt Gray. "Hunt's on to find it now," she said.

Michael Reynolds, a Florida State College astronomer, has previously told National Geographic that the chances of being harmed by a meteorite—that is, a meteor that makes it to earth—are exceedingly slim. "You have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time," he said.

New Zealanders could soon be on the frontline of investigating meteors and other such space phenomena. North Canterbury's unexpected visitor came just hours after NASA and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment announced that Kiwi students will soon be able to apply for internships with the world-class space giant.

Economic Development Minister David Parker said the programme would allow "high-achieving students" to "have the opportunity to work in NASA's best and most advanced research facilities, with access to expert mentors.”

The New Zealand Space Agency will start accepting applications from September 10, and will nominate the chosen students for the June 2019 NASA Internship session.