America

Falling Satellite To Return Tomorrow

A screen grab from NASA shows UARS attached to the robotic arm of the space shuttle Discovery in 1991 as it was deployed. i i

A screen grab from NASA shows UARS attached to the robotic arm of the space shuttle Discovery in 1991 as it was deployed. NASA hide caption

itoggle caption NASA
A screen grab from NASA shows UARS attached to the robotic arm of the space shuttle Discovery in 1991 as it was deployed.

A screen grab from NASA shows UARS attached to the robotic arm of the space shuttle Discovery in 1991 as it was deployed.

NASA

We know a little bit more about the fate of that falling weather satellite, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, which is close to its fiery end. NASA now predicts the UARS will plunge into Earth's lower atmosphere "sometime during the afternoon of Sept. 23, Eastern Daylight Time".

Although most of the UARS will burn up during the descent, several heavy chunks of metal could survive. As you can imagine, there's been considerable interest in whose roof could be at risk. NASA said previously the North and South Poles won't get debris. Today the agency included North America in the safety zone, because "the satellite will not be passing over North America during that time period (of reentry)." That leaves one of the five other continents or the five sevenths of the planet covered by water to welcome back any leftovers.

NASA says the risk to public safety is extremely small.

If you'd like a closer look at the UARS, see this amazing video captured a week ago by Thierry Legault of France. He theorizes the UARS is tumbling, perhaps because of a collision with space debris a few years ago.

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