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Fri September 23, 2011
Phew! Space junk threat decreasing for United States
You've probably caught wind of the space junk hurtling toward the earth's atmosphere.
If not, you can catch up on the story here: Your Friday Forecast: Sunny, with a 1-in-21-Trillion Chance of Getting Hit by Orbital Debris.
The latest projections from NASA: debris from the six-ton "Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite" (UARS) that survives re-entry is less likely to land in the U.S.
As of 10:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 100 miles by 105 miles (160 km by 170 km). Re-entry is expected late Friday, Sept. 23, or early Saturday, Sept. 24, Eastern Daylight Time. Solar activity is no longer the major factor in the satellite’s rate of descent. The satellite’s orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent. There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States, but the possibility cannot be discounted because of this changing rate of descent. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 12 to 18 hours.
If you're one of the lucky ones that stumbles upon newly fallen space junk, NASA wants to make sure you don't touch it... you might cut yourself.
@NASA just tweeted - "Nothing radioactive on #UARS. Main reason NOT to touch anything that you think could be debris: sharp metal cuts."