NASA’s UARS spacecraft is hours away from crashing into Earth after more than a decade of studying the sun. Scientists are concerned about the potential of the 660-pound satellite to cause damage when it re-enters the atmosphere. The satellite is expected to break apart and most of it will burn up in the atmosphere, but some pieces may reach the surface. The exact location of the crash is still unknown, but it is expected to occur sometime on Friday.
The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) was launched in 1991 and has been used to study the Earth’s atmosphere, ozone layer, and other solar processes. It was decommissioned in 2005 and has been slowly losing altitude ever since. This is the first time a NASA spacecraft of this size has re-entered the atmosphere since the Skylab space station in 1979.
NASA has stated that the risk of injury to people on the ground is extremely small, but they are still urging people to stay away from any debris that may be found. The agency is also asking people to report any sightings of the satellite or debris to local authorities.
This event is a reminder of the importance of monitoring and controlling space debris. As more and more satellites and other objects are launched into space, the risk of collisions and debris re-entering the atmosphere increases. The European Space Agency (ESA) is currently working on a project to develop a system to track and monitor space debris.
This event is also a reminder of the importance of studying the sun and its effects on the Earth. The data collected by UARS has been used to better understand the Earth’s atmosphere and climate, and to develop better models for predicting future climate change.
Source: CBS News