Last week, people all over the world fretted over the fact that NASA's 6.5 ton Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) was hurtling back to earth and the Space Agency had no clue or control over when and where it would crash land.
Everybody sighed with relief when the satellite finally hit the earth at about 12.00am EST on Saturday, September 24th and there were no reports of any injuries. Then began the search for the missing debris, since nobody had a clue where the satellite had crashed. After four days, the mystery has finally been solved.
Turns out that errant satellite did exactly what NASA had been hoping for, by falling in a remote part of the Southern Pacific Ocean, a region that is as far from population as can be possible! Though nobody actually witnessed this, according to NASA's mathematical models UARS apparently entered the Earth's atmosphere in the skies above the American Samoa. However, the debris that spread over a 500 mile-span scattered much further out, about 300 miles northwest of Christmas Island.
Phew! Now we can all get back to our daily lives, at least until late October or early November when a German astronomy satellite frefalls back to Earth. The good news is that at 2.5 tons, it is considerably smaller than UARS - The bad? More than 30 pieces of the broken-up satellite are expected to survive and hit Earth. Hopefully, this one too will avoid populated areas - Stay tuned for further updates!
Resources: popsci.com, news.yahoo.com