Track NASA’s Satellite As It Falls Back To Earth

Track NASA’s Satellite As It Falls Back To Earth

Everyone mark your calendar as NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite may crash back to earth at the end of this week. The date is still TBD, but early estimates suggest tomorrow will be the big day.

Most of the satellite will burn up in the earth’s atmosphere, but 26 pieces may survive re-entry. Make sure you have your camera ready as this flaming wreckage will put on quite a show. And don’t worry about being hit by the falling pieces like Lottie Williams. NASA estimates there’s a 1 in 3200 chance that debris from UARS will hit someone.

To find out where the pieces of UARS will land, you can follow the official updates at NASA’s website or track the satellite using an online tracker like Heavens Above. [Discovery]

Update #10 Sat, 24 Sep 2011 12:45:08 AM EST

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 100 miles by 105 miles (160 km by 170 km). Re-entry is expected late Friday, Sept. 23, or early Saturday, Sept. 24, Eastern Daylight Time. Solar activity is no longer the major factor in the satellite’s rate of descent. The satellite’s orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent. There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States, but the possibility cannot be discounted because of this changing rate of descent. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 12 to 18 hours.