Huge Defunct Satellite Falling to Earth Faster Than Expected, NASA Says


Tariq Malik
Space.com
September 17, 2011

NASA space junk experts have refined the forecast for the anticipated death plunge of a giant satellite, with the U.S. space agency now predicting the 6 1/2-ton climate probe will plummet to Earth around Sept. 23, a day earlier than previously reported.

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The defunct bus-size spacecraft is NASA’s Upper Atmospheric Research Satellite (UARS), which launched in 1991 and was shut down in 2005 after completing its mission. The satellite was expected to fall to Earth sometime this year, with experts initially pegging a weeks-long window between late September and early October, then narrowing it to the last week of this month.

That window, NASA now says, has been trimmed to just three days.

“Re-entry is expected Sept. 23, plus or minus a day. The re-entry of UARS is advancing because of a sharp increase in solar activity since the beginning of this week,” NASA officials wrote in a status update today (Sept. 16). The projection is a day earlier than a previous forecast released by NASA yesterday.

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