Falling Satellite Hits Ocean, Location a Mystery: NASA

  on September 24 2011 1:06 PM

A 6-ton defunct NASA satellite has fallen back to Earth Saturday, but officials are not sure of the exact location of the debris that rained into the Pacific Ocean.

The U.S. space agency said its decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) fell back to Earth between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23 and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24.

The precise re-entry time and location of any debris impacts are still being determined. NASA is not aware of any reports of injury or property damage, the agency said.

NASA estimated a 1-in-3,200 chance that a satellite part could hit someone, though 1,200 pounds should survive the re-entry. Most of the vessel ended up burning up in the atmosphere, as predicted.

No injuries were reported.

Things have been re-entering ever since the dawn of the Space Age; to date nobody has been injured by anything that's re-entered, said NASA orbital debris chief Gene Stansbery.

The satellite ran out of fuel in 2005.

UARS was a $750 million mission deployed from the shuttle Discovery in 1991 to study the Earth's atmosphere and its interactions with the sun.

It measure important ozone depletion related to climate change. According to NASA reading from UARS gave evidence that Chorine in the atmosphere is at the root of the polar ozone hole.

In August researchers recommended that NASA and the U.S. State Department coordinate with other nations to work on plans to remove space junk from Earth's orbit, warning debris was reaching a tipping point.

 

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