Saturday, 24 September 2011 17:55

UARS is down in south-western Canada

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Early reports are just in; UARS fragments have been discovered south of Calgary in Canada.

Locals in Okotoks (approximately 30km south of Calgary) are reporting the discovery of wreckage from the recently downed UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite), including a large piece that left a substantial crater and early estimates suggest a debris field extending to the north east of there.

In addition, apparent video showing pieces of the burning satellite passing over Okotoks is already on YouTube.

Previous reports have previously suggested an earlier fall to Earth, but a recent reduction in solar activity has lessened the expansion of the atmosphere, weakening the dragging effect on the satellite.

Despite NASA's suggestion of one chance in 3,200 of someone being hit, there are no reports of this happening; despite a vast over-focus on this possibility by the popular press.

In the future, such eventful descents are considerably less likely as modern satellites are equipped for a controlled descent, but UARS was launched before such systems became common.

Update: NASA has confirmed that "NASA's decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell back to Earth between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23 and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24. The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California said the satellite penetrated the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. The precise re-entry time and location are not yet known with certainty."

 

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