NASA has discounted claims Russian space junk was responsible for a near-miss over the Pacific.

The pilot of a Chilean jet bound for Auckland reported seeing fiery debris falling near his plane on Tuesday night.

There is speculation it was an unmanned Russian cargo craft returning to Earth after resupplying the International Space Station.

However NASA's chief scientist for orbital debris Nicholas Johnson has checked the records of the 15,000 space objects NASA tracks on a regular basis. He says none fell to Earth during the period reported by the airliner and the Russian rocket re-entered the atmosphere 13 hours later.

Mr Johnson says the pilot probably saw a meteorite burning up as it entered the atmosphere.