No Mystery: Dead Satellite Crashed Into Pacific
NASA has confirmed that its defunct Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite re-entered the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean early Saturday, scattering whatever debris survived the incineration into a watery tomb.
The re-entry occurred at midnight Eastern Daylight Time Saturday as the bus-sized UARS passed 14.1 degrees south latitude and 189.8 degrees east longitude, the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California reports.
At 35 feet long and 15 feet in diameter, UARS is among the largest satellites to make an uncontrolled descent back to Earth. It was built before NASA planned for the disposal of such large spacecraft. Still, officials put the odds at 1 in 3,200 that any person in the world would be hit by UARS debris.
NASA predicted that about 1,100 pounds of the 13,000-pound satellite would survive the fiery plunge through the atmosphere and land within a 500-mile impact zone.
The agency said it had no reports of anyone seeing any of UARS' falling debris. The satellite, which was deployed by a space shuttle crew in 1991, completed its mission in 2005 and had been slowly drifting back to Earth, pulled by the planet's gravity, ever since.
Image (top): Artist's impression of UARS. Credit: NASA. Image (bottom): Last lap for UARS. Credit: NASA.