Dead Satellite Will Fall to Earth By September’s End, NASA Says
2011 09 15

By Clara Moskowitz | Space.com

A defunct satellite poised to fall back to Earth will make its death plunge during the last week of September, NASA officials now say.

The spacecraft, an old NASA climate probe called the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), was decommissioned in 2005 and has been slowly losing altitude since. Soon, the 6 1/2-ton satellite will make a final uncontrolled plunge through Earth’s atmosphere.

On Monday (Sept. 12), a NASA update stated that the satellite is now expected to plummet back to Earth during the last week of September. Previous estimates by NASA and the U.S. military, which is monitoring the hefty space junk, suggested the UARS satellite would fall sometime in late September or early October.

While most of UARS’ huge bulk will burn up during re-entry, some pieces are expected to survive. NASA insists these will pose little risk to civilians on the ground, although there is a chance debris could impact a populated area.

This video simulation of the UARS satellite crash by the analytical firm Analytical Graphics Inc., shows how the satellite orbits Earth.

NASA officials say there is a 1-in-3,200 chance that a piece of UARS satellite debris could strike and injure a person on the ground. The most likely scenario is that the satellite falls somewhere over an ocean.

"Earth is big, the satellite is small; the chance of it hitting a person is very, very small," said Victoria Samson, the Washington Office Director of the Secure World Foundation, an organization dedicated to the peaceful use of outer space. "While the idea of something coming at you from outer space is unnerving, there are a lot more realistic threats we should be concerned about. The actual impact to any person is fairly minimal."

At this point, NASA cannot confirm the exact trajectory or time of the UARS satellite’s plunge, which depend on solar weather, variations in Earth’s gravitational field, and the orientation of the satellite. However, as UARS’ re-entry draws near NASA should be able to offer more precise predictions.

The space agency first announced the spacecraft’s impending dive last week. Since then, experts have been able to refine their tracking of the satellite, and confirmed its present orbit.

"As of Sept. 12, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 145 mi by 165 mi (235 km by 265 km)," NASA officials wrote in a statement.

The bus-size satellite is about 35 feet (10.7 meters) long and 15 feet (4.5 m) wide. And while it’s too soon to know where the pieces of UARS will fall, an analysis suggests they will likely scatter within an area of 500 miles (800 kilometers) length.

NASA officials have said that should any of the 26 pieces of the UARS that are expected to survive re-entry fall near a populated area, the public should not touch the satellite debris. Instead, local law enforcement should be contacted. Any surviving UARS satellite debris cannot be kept or sold as they remain the property of the U.S. government, NASA officials said.

[...]


Read the full article at: space.com

Image: NASA’s UARS satellite, which was decomissioned in 2005, and is now on the verge of falling back to Earth.
CREDIT: NASA



Story Comment: "So, if it remains the property of NASA, I am assuming that they are admitting liability then if it causes injury or damage?" ~Steve








Related Articles
Spy Satellites, Google Earth Now Guarding World’s Great Ancient Sites
New satellites battle pollution "ghosts"
Japan 9.0 Superquake Related To Magnetosphere Pressure On The 11th? "Missing hours" on satellite data (Video)
Huge solar flare jams radio, satellite signals: NASA
NASA earth observation satellite fails to reach orbit, plunges into ocean
Russia-UK satellites to "predict quakes", "give govts 10 days to save lives" (Video)
China’s Secret Satellite Rendezvous ‘Suggestive of a Military Program’
U.S. says missile hit spy sattelite


Latest News from our Front Page

Norway Joins the Race to Develop Killer Robots
2014 10 24
Norway is a large exporter of weapons, which makes the resolution of the debate about creating killer robots an important issue for everyone.  One could debate the overall merits or failings of robotic systems, but an area that clearly has become a point for concern on all sides is the emergence of "killer robots." According to robotics pioneer, David Hanson, ...
Gene That Once Aided Survival in the Arctic Found to Have Negative Impact on Health Today
2014 10 23
In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a gene variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today’s northern populations. {snip} “Our work ...
The Ebola hoax: questions, answers, and the false belief in the “One It”
2014 10 23
“The Reality Manufacturing Company doesn’t just sell ‘fake paintings’ that are easy to spot. No. They also sell images that are geared to mesh with people’s deeply held instincts and thereby produce rigid false beliefs. People are sure that if they gave up such beliefs, their world would fall apart and blow away in the wind.” ...
New Controversial Theory Suggests "Hobbits" Were Not Human - Who Were These Mysterious Beings?
2014 10 23
The origin of the Hobbit species remains a challenging subject to scientists. The Hobbit’s discovery confirmed the view that the Earth was once populated by many species of human, but new research the Hobbit’s were not human at all! So, who were these mysterious beings? Where did they come from? The idea that our species, Homo sapiens, was the only species of human on ...
Right into enemy hands? ISIS shows off new weapons allegedly airdropped by US (VIDEO)
2014 10 23
Islamic State has published a new video in which a jihadist shows off brand-new American hardware, which was purportedly intended for the Kurds they are fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The undated video, posted by the unofficial IS mouthpiece “a3maq news”, sees a jihadist showing several boxes of munitions with English-language markings, with a parachute spread out on ...
More News »