NASA space junk scientists believe that “all–or nearly all– of the parts of their 20-year-old dead satellite safely plunged into the Pacific Ocean, likely missing land.”
Nick Johnson, NASA’s chief scientist for orbital debris, stated “We don’t know where the re-entry point exactly was. We don’t exactly know where the debris field is.”
However, because there were no reports of damage or injury on land, NASA feels that this is a good indication that the pieces landed in the ocean.
Jonathan McDowell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics suggests that this doesn’t necessarily mean that all the debris fell into the sea. “some debris could have fallen over areas such as Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Calgary, Alberta; and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.”
Original Article September 25, 2011
As previously reported the UARS satellite is plummeting towards the earth, with NASA being unable to pinpoint the exact location of re-entry.
The dead satellite was originally supposed to make its firery reentry sometime Friday afternoon, with the U.S. being cleared of a possible location.
However, after a solar flare, the satellite slowed and turned, making the new reentry time sometime Friday between 11pm and 3am on Saturday, with U.S. an unlikely, but possible location for falling debris.
26 pieces, ranging from 10 to 100 pounds are expected to survive reentry because they are made of “stainless steel, titanium and beryllium that won’t burn.”
Jonthan McDowell, Harvard University astrophysicist stated that the satellite isn’t the biggest piece of space junk to come back and cited the 70-ton Skylab space station that came crashing out of the sky in the 70s.
McDowell further noted, “If the thing happens to come down in a city, that would be bad. The chances of it causing extensive damage or injuring someone are much higher.”
NASA said that once the debris hits the atmosphere 50 miles up, it will take only a matter of minutes before the surviving pieces hit the Earth.
Read More at CNN.
Original Article September 21, 2011
A dead satellite that has been in orbit for 20 years will plummet to Earth this week.
The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is an old, very large, climate satellite, which was launched into space in 1991 and decommissioned in 2005. It is expected to re-enter the Earth’s Atmosphere on Friday, “plus or minus a day,” and NASA officials predict that “at least 26 large pieces of the satellite will survive the scorching temperatures of the atmospheric re-entry.”
Officials can’t predict exactly where the debris will fall but it is speculated that debris can land “anywhere between the latitudes of northern Canada and southern South America, an area that includes much of the planet.”
According to NASA there is a “1-in-3,200 chance that UARS debris could hit a person,” though they believe there is a remote chance of this happening, because 75% of the Earth’s surface is ocean, and officials believe that it is highly likely the satellite will re-enter the atmosphere of an ocean or an area of uninhabited land. They do suggest, however, that if it does re-enter the atmosphere over a populated area, if the weather is clear, we should be able to see a “dazzling light show.”
A warning has been issued by NASA and the U.S. Military in the likelihood that any debris falls in or near a populated area; DO NOT touch any of the remains of UARS, instead, call local law enforcement officials.
And by the way “any debris from the UARS satellite still remains the property of the U.S. government and cannot be sold for profit to collectors on eBay.”
Read more at Space.