If you've been looking to the skies in the hope of catching a glimpse of the doomed UARS satellite before it plummeted to the Earth's surface ... you missed it. NASA is now reporting that the decommissioned satellite fell back to Earth sometime between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23 and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24, making its final dive eastwards over Canada, Africa and finally crashing in the Pacific Ocean.
The exact location of the crash has not been officially determined but there are reports that some debris made landfall near Calgary in Canada. NASA says that it is not aware of any reports of injury or property damage.
During its last hours of decent UARS slowed down and changed trajectory, placing parts of Canada, the USA and Australia on alert for a possible impact zones. Solar activity and the tumbling motion of the satellite slowed down the satellite as it headed for final impact.
It was anticipated that 26 large fragments of the UARS satellite would actually fall to Earth, altogether weighing about 1,170 pounds/532 kg (the largest weighing 300 pounds/150 kg). The "debris footprint" is estimated to be about 500 miles (800 km) long.
The US$750 million Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is the largest NASA satellite to make an uncontrolled dive back to Earth since 1979. Needless to say, any remains of the satellite will be very tough to find, but it is not a case of finder's keepers for any would-be treasure hunters - the debris continues to remain the property of NASA.
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