6.5 ton NASA satellite crash lands, probably in Pacific
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A 6.5 ton defunct satellite hurtling uncontrolled towards Earth has likely plunged into a remote section the Pacific Ocean off the western US coast, American space agency NASA said.
The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) crossed over portions of Indian Ocean and Africa before splashing down sometime between 11:23 pm (local time) Friday and 1:09 am yesterday, NASA officials said.
NASA said all debris from the research satellite, the biggest piece of US space junk to fall uncontrolled in 32 years, appears to have dropped in a remote section of the Pacific Ocean well "away from the western coast of the US," but the precise spot may never be pinpointed.
There was a 1-in-3,200 chance of a person getting hit by falling debris, but there is no such report yet. "NASA is not aware of any reports of injury or property damage," the officials wrote in a statement.
Nick Johnson, chief scientist for orbital debris at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, told reporters the fiery trajectory of the 13,000-pound satellite ended as it crossed eastward over portions of the Indian Ocean and Africa for the final time.
It then most likely disintegrated and scattered debris over a roughly 500-mile stretch across the northern portion of the Pacific.
About 11 hours after the plunge, he said there is no credible report about debris falling on land or anyone recovering satellite parts -- contrary to widespread Internet speculation about purported remnants of the satellite falling to the ground in Canada or elsewhere.
But "we may never know" precisely where the debris ended up, Johnson told reporters, as ground-based sensors and other tracking devices provide only approximate locations of where the satellite started breaking up, and debris began falling vertically.
NASA also said it had not received any reports of debris sightings from aircraft or vessels.