It is expected to fall today: a dead six-ton satellite will hit earth today, NASA predicts. Where it will fall is anyone’s guess. Iran, Israel, India, Illinois?
Space junk is becoming a serious environmental concern, especially when it starts falling back to planet earth. NASA has issued an advisory that an old satellite, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, 20 years old, will be the biggest piece of NASA space junk to fall from the sky in 32 years. Green Prophet readers everywhere: put on your helmets, even if NASA believes it will fall into water. We are not taking any chances.
According to NASA, the space junk is likely to miss North America entirely (lucky them), and when it hits our earth’s atmosphere some 1,200 pounds or 544 kilograms are expected to break into 26 pieces, with the biggest chunk weighing 300 pounds. NASA insists the space junk, is not a risk for humans. Well, there is only a one in 3,200 chance a person will get hit, says NASA. In an official statement Thursday morning: “Re-entry is expected sometime during the afternoon of September 23, Eastern Daylight Time. The satellite will not be passing over North America during that time period. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any more certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 24 to 36 hours.
Junk collectors be on the watch: the space junk to survive will include a titanium fuel tank, beryllium housing and stainless steel batteries and wheel rims, while some orbital debris scientists say will fall somewhere between 57 north latitude and 57 south latitude, covering most of the populated world and when it drops, spanning some 500 miles (800 kilometers).
NASA says that in its 50 years of space exploration no one has been hurt by space junk. This time – a one in 3,200 chance. That’s enough for me to wear a helmet and stay indoors.
“No consideration ever was given to shooting it down,” NASA spokeswoman Beth Dickey said.
Its Skylab fell down in western Australia in 1979, but in reality orbital debris of the same size hits earth about once a year. Some 22,000 pieces of space junk are up there. With the latest chunks falling if one does hit near you, don’t touch it, they say.
Above image of bread helmet man seen in Yemen this summer. Via the Guardian.