Science

NASA releases UARS re-entry location, believes debris landed in Pacific

Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite
Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite via Wikiedpa/NASA
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NASA and the U.S. Joint Space Operations Center (USSTRATCOM) have revealed the nominal location where large parts of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) crashed landed in the Pacific Ocean and not Canada.

Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite
Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite via Wikiedpa/NASA

After spending most of yesterday tracking the satellite’s location in realtime (view our report here) the space agency revealed that the satellite had crashed on Canadian Soil (view our report here).  This was a reversal of the agency’s prediction that the satellite would not make landfall over North America.

However, speaking on a live teleconference NASA said it believes UARS ploughed through the atmosphere 04:16 GMT at 31° North and 219° East (September 24) and this would suggest that it strew debris across the Pacific Ocean not over Canada or USA.


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NASA's UARS re-entry
DoDʼs Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, CA, has assessed that NASAʼs Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite reentered the atmosphere sometime between 0323 and 0509 GMT on 24 September. During this period the satellite passed over Canada, the African continent, and the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The mid-point of that groundtrack and a possible reentry location is 31 N latitude and 219 E longitude (green circle marker on the above map). Credit NASA

This re-entry location would place the satellite 1860 km from San Francisco and 1969 km from Sacramento. However NASA says that “we may never know” exactly where UARS came down.  The agency said that it will only be able to accurately know the re-entry location from eye-witnesses.

NASA downplayed the risk from the satellite by saying that every day one satellite makes re-entry into the atmosphere for the past 50 years.

Tweeting this morning NASA was keen to point out that any debris from the satellite, regardless of where it landed, is the property of the United States.

NASA says that if the public comes across what they believe is debris that they should call the emergency services.

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).