Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Update on when, where chunks of satellite might hit

Dan Vergano of USA Today weighed in this morning with the latest on the re-entering satellite that NASA has warned could hit anywhere on the Earth, any day now. Here's some of Dan's story and a link to the full version on

What goes up, must come down. So NASA officials predict 6.2 tons of defunct satellite will make a fiery re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere sometime from Thursday to Saturday.

Debris from the space agency's defunct Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite poses a 1-in-3,200 risk of hitting someone, according to a space agency analysis.

Depending on the exact altitude at which the satellite's final plunge starts, most likely on Friday, the debris could scatter anywhere from Siberia to South America.

If the satellite enters over a populated part of the world, "people should see quite a show," resembling a shooting star, even in the daytime, says NASA orbital debris expert Nicholas Johnson of the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"We'll just not know precisely where it comes down, until it comes down," Johnson says.
The risk of debris striking anyone, he says, "is very low. In 45 years of spacecraft falling back to Earth, no one has been hurt."

Read the full USA Today story.

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