Dead Satellite Will Fall to Earth By September’s End, NASA Says
2011-09-15 0:00

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

Stephen Hawking: humanity needs to live in space or die out, physicist warns via hologram
2015-04-28 3:05
Humans should go and live in space within the next 1,000 years, or it will die out, Stephen Hawking has warned. "We must continue to go into space for the future of humanity," Mr Hawking said. "I don't think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet." Hawking issued the warning during one of two talks at the ...
What's wrong with the Swedes - and so many other Whites?
2015-04-28 3:14
Another in the unending list of suicidal behavior by Swedes, this one by Cecilia Wilkström, a Member of the European Parliament for the center-right (!) Liberal Party, who is concerned about the recent drownings in the Mediterranean of Africans attempting to invade Europe. Note that, once again, the Holocaust is front and center stage as a paradigm requiring Westerners to ...
Scenes of Chaos in Baltimore
2015-04-28 2:20
A largely peaceful protest over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a spinal cord injury in police custody, gave way to scattered scenes of chaos here on Saturday night, as demonstrators smashed a downtown storefront window, threw rocks and bottles and damaged police cruisers, while officers in riot gear broke up skirmishes and made 12 ...
MSNBC Guest: "You Don't Have to Have a White Person Around to Have White Supremacy Play Out"
2015-04-27 22:36
What makes the academic study of “white supremacy” and “white privilege” so perfect for racialists is that it requires absolutely no parameters of study. There are no standards of proof. There is no way any claims can be vetted in peer-reviewed journals because the “evidence” can be explained by other factors. Anything and everything can be pointed to as being ...
Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs
2015-04-27 22:23
Immigration - Global humanitarian reasons for current U.S. immigration are tested in this updated version of immigration author and journalist Roy Beck's colorful presentation of data from the World Bank and U.S. Census Bureau. The 1996 version of this immigration gumballs presentation has been one of the most viewed immigration policy presentations on the internet. Presented by immigration author/journalist Roy Beck Learn ...
More News »