Researchers are still studying the video but thus far, the only explanation they can find is that the huge tumbling object that zooms mere feet by a falling skydiver is – a meteorite! If this turns out to the be real identity of the mysterious object, and so far all evidence suggests it really is what it appears to be, this will be the first time a meteor in “dark flight”, the portion of its fall to Earth when it does not emit fiery light, has been captured in photography.
Norwegian skydiver Anders Helstrup, a member of the Oslo Parachute Club in Norway, had returned from his jump feeling something had not been quite right.
“I got the feeling that there was something, but I didn’t register what was happening.”
Helstrup went back and watched the video footage that was taken from his helmet camera and spotted what looked like a huge rock tumbling past him while in mid-freefall. When he froze the video, he could clearly see what looked like a large rock. At first he wondered if he had accidentally packed a rock into his chute but quickly recognized the object was much too big.
Helstrup searched the ground around the jumpsite where he figured the meteorite could have landed. After having no luck finding it, he contacted the Natural History Museum in Oslo who immediately recognized the object for what it was – a meteorite. Geologist Hans Amundsen said quite simply:
“It can’t be anything else. The shape is typical of meteorites – a fresh fracture surface on one side, while the other side is rounded.”
More careful analysis of the video revealed a second, smaller object, in addition to the tumbling meteorite that is so easily visible. Researchers surmise that the the meteorite captured on film was part of a larger rock which had exploded 12 miles above Helstrup.
Geologist Hans Amundsen told Helstrup:
“If you’d jumped a fraction of a second later, you’d be dead. It would have cut him in half. Imagine a 11-pound rock hitting you in the chest at 186 miles per hour. That would have led to quite an accident investigation.”
In the video below, which of course is shaky at times, watch carefully first for a white streak of light far in the foreground. Later, after the chute opens, look for the tumbling rock which passes from the upper left-hand side of the frame to the lower right-side. We have included several post-processing views – slow-motion and zoom – to bring out the clarity.
Below is a gallery of still frames taken from the video. Amazing!