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NASA satellite’s debris hits Earth

Cape Canaveral, September 24
A six-tonne NASA science satellite pierced the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean and fell back to Earth, the US space agency said today, but it was not yet known where the remains landed.

NASA said its decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, which took an unpredictable course as it tumbled through the upper atmosphere, fell to Earth on Saturday. “The precise re-entry time and location are not yet known with certainty,” NASA said of the 20-year-old satellite.

There were reports on Twitter of debris falling over Okotoks, a town south of Calgary in western Canada.

Stretching 35-feet long and 15-feet in diameter, UARS was among the largest spacecraft to plummet uncontrollably through the atmosphere, although it is a slim cousin to NASA’s 75-tonnes Skylab station, which crashed to Earth in 1979.

Russia’s last space station, the 135-tonnes Mir, crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2001, but it was a guided descent. NASA now plans for the controlled re-entry of large spacecraft, but it did not when UARS was designed.

The 5,897 kg satellite was dispatched into orbit by a space shuttle crew in 1991 to study ozone and other chemicals in Earth’s atmosphere. It completed its mission in 2005 and had been slowly losing altitude ever since, pulled by the planet’s gravity.

Most of the spacecraft burned up during the fiery plunge through the atmosphere, but about 26 individual pieces, weighing a total of about 500 kg could have survived the incineration. — Reuters 


NASA says the precise re-entry time and location of the satellite are not yet known

There were reports on Twitter of debris falling over Okotoks, a town south of Calgary in western Canada. But there was no conformation.


London: Scientists have warned that a defunct German space sateliite may collide with the Earth by the end of next month. The 2.4-ton ROSAT has been spinning aimlessly through space for 12 years after it was switched off in 1999 after its guidance system broke. With its orbit bringing it inexorably closer to Earth, the authorities initially thought it would burn up entirely on re-entry. 





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