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It’s 35-feet long, 3,000 pounds, and it’s crashing somewhere on Earth tomorrow.

This conceptual image shows the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, launched on Sept. 15, 1991, by the space shuttle Discovery. Measurements from the mission helped define the role of Earth's upper atmosphere in climate and climate variability. The 35-foot-long, 15-foot-diameter UARS was decommissioned on Dec. 14, 2005. Credit: NASA

The NASA satellite UARS is expected to re-enter our atmosphere sometime tomorrow afternoon, Sept. 23, according to NASA officials. UARS, or Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, should break up into pieces during its plunge, however, that won’t happen with all of the parts. If you happen to find a piece of the debris, don’t touch it. Contact your local law enforcement authority.

But here’s some good news for my folks in the United States: The satellite is not expected to reach us.

Here’s some bad news: The satellite is not expected to reach us.

How sad. We’ll be safe (public risk was always minimal), but we’ll miss out on the fireworks.

Objects the size of UARS re-enter Earth about once a year, according to NASA officials. Perhaps the biggest object to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere was Skylab, a 75-ton station that was unexpectedly pushed out of orbit due to high solar activity. On July 11, 1979, Skylab plunged into Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated in western Australia and the southeastern Indian Ocean..

More time and location information for the UARS re-entry will be released within 24 to 48 hours, according to NASA officials.

Here’s some background: UARS launched into orbit in 1991. It measured ozone and chemicals compounds found in the ozone layer, winds and temperatures in the stratosphere,  and energy input from the Sun. It was decommissioned in 2005 and has been orbiting Earth ever since.

 

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