Satellite plummets to Earth, may never be discovered

By Posted 26 Sep 2011, 14:41

If you have been keeping up with recent headlines on the TV and the newspapers, you will be aware of the six-ton satellite that was plummeting to Earth from space. For those that aren’t already aware, it crash-landed recently, reportedly somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. The problem is the U.S space agency, NASA does not know the exact location of the debris meaning it may never be discovered.

Reports first began warning people that the giant piece of space equipment, the UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite), which had provided a service of twenty years in orbit, would be making an entry back into Earth’s atmosphere at some point, and that it could have quite an impact. They agency said the satellite would be torn apart during the re-entry meaning it wouldn’t all make it to land or ocean. It is believed that 26 pieces did survive the fall however, the heaviest piece of which was approx. 150Kg.

According to The Vancouver Sun, NASA believes the plunge ended at sometime between 20:23 and 23:09 Friday night, but was unable to pinpoint an exact location of neither where it fell nor a specific time. This is because they did not know the exact point of re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. NASA’s Chief orbital debris scientist, Nicholas Johnson, claims they ‘may never know.’ NASA also reported that most of the journey happened over water.

UARS is not the first or the biggest spacecraft to have plummeted to Earth, in 1979 NASA’s Skylab station, which weighed 75 tons, crashed to Earth uncontrollably and in 2001 Russia’s 135 tons space station Mir crashed into the Pacific Ocean, this was a controlled decent however. NASA claims that once a year a piece of the 20,000 different pieces of debris floating around in space will plummet to Earth with minute risk to public safety.

What are your thoughts on the amount of debris we have in space? Are you concerned for your safety?