NASA’s 6.5 ton defunct space satellite now in death plunge

September 16, 2011NASA space junk experts have refined the forecast for the anticipated death plunge of a giant satellite, with the U.S. space agency now predicting the 6 1/2-ton climate probe will plummet to Earth around Sept. 23, a day earlier than previously reported. The defunct bus-size spacecraft is NASA’s Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite (UARS), which launched in 1991 and was shut down in 2005 after completing its mission. The satellite was expected to fall to Earth sometime this year, with experts initially pegging a weeks-long window between late September and early October, then narrowing it to the last week of this month. “Re-entry is expected Sept. 23, plus or minus a day. The re-entry of UARS is advancing because of a sharp increase in solar activity since the beginning of this week,” NASA officials wrote in a status update today (Sept. 16). The projection is a day earlier than a previous forecast released by NASA yesterday. NASA spokeswoman Beth Dickey confirmed with SPACE.com earlier today that the reason UARS is expected to fall early in its re-entry window is because of the sharp uptick in solar activity. Solar effects from the sun can create an extra drag on satellites in space because they can heat the Earth’s atmosphere, causing it to expand, agency officials have said. NASA officials expect the UARS satellite to fall over a region somewhere between the latitudes of northern Canada and southern South America, which leaves a vast swath of the world open as a possible re-entry point. About 75 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, which makes an ocean splashdown likely, NASA and experts have said. NASA and the Joint Space Operations Center of U.S. Strategic Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., are keeping a close watch on the falling satellite, but will only be able to pinpoint its actual crash zone to within about 6,000 miles (10,000 km) about two hours before re-entry. As of Thursday, the UARS satellite was flying in an orbit of between 143 and 158 miles (230 to 255 km) above Earth. That orbit is dropping lower each day, NASA officials said. NASA has advised the public not to touch any debris that may reach the surface, should it be discovered. Instead, the space agency says that anyone who finds satellite debris should contact their local law enforcement agency. –Space.com
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22 Responses to NASA’s 6.5 ton defunct space satellite now in death plunge

  1. SSS says:

    Chicken Little WAS right….The sky IS falling! Seriously though, a meteor is one thing but space trash is another….I hope and pray noone gets hurt or worse by this junk. Is there anything else we have to worry about ? No wonder….”Men’s hearts(are) failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Luke 21:26 (see also vs 25)

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  2. So, on top of everything else, we have to watch for a 6.6 ton defunct space satellite falling to earth. There are days when I almost expect to find something falling into my back yard, if not through my house.

    Maranatha

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  3. Alexexis says:

    Perhaps it’s time to take a vacation to the other side of the world! 6,000 mile swath???? Godd grief! Nothing like pinpoint accuracy from NASA.

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  4. concerned mommy says:

    How big exactly is 6 1/2 tons? Could it kick up enough debris to block the sun? I need to look into this.

    Thanks again Alvin!
    Kari

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    • Novus Ordo seclorum says:

      It`s weight is 6,5 tons when it begins entry to earth.. Most of it will burn and shatter so the real treath is small parts coming in over populated areas.. Unless it`s bigger than they say, or it`s somthing else coming down:)

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  5. Helen Parks says:

    Scientists are monitoring a German satellite expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and possibly crash land.
    Currently, the satellite is still orbiting the earth at a distance of 500 kilometres (approximately 310 miles).
    German news agencies report that the ROSAT satellite weighing 2,426kg is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere between October and December 2011.
    Officials from the German Space Agency, DLR, first confirmed the satellite collision on Saturday 26th February 2011 in an interview with Der Spiegel newspaper.
    It is not known if debris will hit Earth’s surface or if the satellite will disintegrate on re-entry as it heats to more than 982 degrees Celsius.
    Space agency spokesman Andreas Schütz told German radio “the current estimates see a very low probability of the satellite colliding with the earth’s surface”.

    Is this the same one?

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  6. tyron says:

    Most of it will burn off in reentry…however even a thumb sized object can kill you from that height.

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  7. bl8ant says:

    the elephant in the room says ….
    “there are huge populations in those coordinates yo!”

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  8. Blaze says:

    Nasa can’t pinpoint the exact impact area, but can tell you that 24 pieces of the craft will remain intact and will impact. I’m pretty sure they can predict the impact area.

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  9. Dennis E. says:

    I know this is impractical. But, I wish that it was possible to put these defunct satellites in a parking orbit or a corner of space like a junkyard. I know it takes a bit of veloicty to escape the earth’s gravitation force, something like 7 miles per second as per what I’ve read, 25,000 miles an hour.
    So, shoots the idea of sending items like this into the sun(would need much fuel).
    And so, we bring them to earth in a controlled decent(hopefully) and crash them(hopefully) into the ocean.

    Just a thought

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  10. Debra says:

    NASA experts really narrowed it down for us hmmm bt N Canada and S part of S America? Good thing the experts r on top of this. And even better, somewhere w/in a 6000 mile area. With a 2 hour notice. Really? And don’t touch the pieces…. OK – there is something inherently wrong w all of this. Is this really a satellite? I do not believe this is anywhere near the truth about this.

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    • PansPermia says:

      Debra I did not read anything referencing not touching the fallen pieces; however, I did read that if pieces of the object are found by the public – they should turn found items over to the authorities.

      And yes a two hour notice is could create a panic – which reminds me always keep your gas tank over, (if possible) the half full marker.

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  11. Can they even say where are the perimeters of the 6,000 miles ???What are people supposed to do ..??? Is anyone from NASA answering any of these questions for the public ??? where do we go for answers ???

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  12. Tomwe says:

    Seems like they should build in a self-destuct mechanism so that any large object could be broken up before hitting the atmosphere.

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  13. Suanne says:

    Is this thing big enough to cause a tsunami if it hits in the ocean? Sounds like it’s not different than being hit by a meteor or comet…what about if it hits on land, what type of effect would it have? With everything else that’s going on, this is just what we don’t need…

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    • Dennis E. says:

      No, will cause a big splash and a slight ripple affect. For it to cause a tsunami as you are thinking about, it would have to be traveling a very very high rate of speed.
      What that speed is, I don’t know, but I do know the speed of this object won’t cause it.

      Like

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