Friday, September 9, 2011

Nasa 'Concern' At Satellite Falling To Earth - 9th Sept 2011

Nasa has admitted it is "concerned" about a dead £471m satellite that will soon fall to Earth - but insisted there is little chance it will hit anyone.

The space agency says the 20-year-old Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is likely to fall sometime between late September and October.

Pieces of it could land anywhere in the six inhabited continents in a swathe of the world from Alaska to just north of the tip of South America.

Scientists estimate there is just a one-in-3,200 chance a satellite part could hit someone and say most of it will burn up after entering Earth's atmosphere.

The 5.4-ton UARS ran out of fuel in 2005 and will fall uncontrolled out of orbit, but Nasa says only about 544 kilograms of metal should survive.

It is far smaller than the 123-ton Russian space station Mir, which fell to Earth in 2001 or the 91-ton Skylab that fell in 1979. Both hit the Earth's surface without harming anyone.

Space debris usually hits water, as two-thirds of the earth is made up of sea.

Nasa orbital debris chief Gene Stansbery said: "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."

"That doesn't mean we're not concerned." Read More