|The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite hangs in the grasp of the Remote Manipulator System during deployment from Space Shuttle Discovery, September 1991. |
CREDIT: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Heads up! That’s the word from NASA today (Sept. 7) given the impending re-entry of a 6.5-ton satellite through Earth’s atmosphere.
The huge Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in an uncontrolled fall in late September or early October. Much of the spacecraft is expected to burn up during re-entry, but some pieces are expected to make it intact to the ground, NASA officials said.
The U.S. space agency will be taking measures to inform the public about the pieces of the spacecraft that are expected to survive re-entry.
“It is too early to say exactly when UARS will re-enter and what geographic area may be affected, but NASA is watching the satellite closely and will keep you informed,” NASA said in a statement released today (Sept. 7). [Worst Space Debris Events of All Time]
The satellite launched to Earth orbit in 1991 aboard NASA’s space shuttle Discovery and was decommissioned on Dec. 14, 2005. It is 35 feet (10.7 meters) long and 15 feet (4.5 m) wide.