Reporting Kai Jackson
WASHINGTON (WJZ)— A massive chunk of space debris is falling toward the Earth and could hit bottom Friday night.
Kai Jackson explains NASA is still trying to figure out exactly where the dying satellite will land.
Scientists say a six ton satellite is on a crash course with Earth.
“It’s coming into the atmosphere and it’s going to burn up and probably drop some debris some place on the planet,” said Dr. William Ailor, director of the Aerospace Corporation.
NASA says it probably won’t hit the United States, but will scatter debris over a 500-mile area somewhere on the globe.
Experts are tracking the satellite’s path at radar stations around the world. Computer models show it falling in the South Pacific but nobody knows for sure.
“Due to the size and shape of this object, it’s impossible for anyone, using any of the resources we have across the globe, to accurately predict when and exactly where this object will be re-entering,” said Mike Farrington, Royal Air Force.
Most of the satellite will burn up but two dozen metal chunks will plummet to Earth. The heaviest weighs over 300 pounds.
“Most satellites when they come down, they’re smaller and they burn up and no one is the wiser. But this one because of it size is a little more significant,” said Doug Millard, British Science Museum.
NASA launched the research satellite in 1991 to study the ozone layer but took it out of service in 2005.
It’s the biggest NASA spacecraft to fall from the sky in 32 years. The odds of debris hitting any one person on the planet are very slim—just one in 21 trillion.
In NASA’s 50 years of space travel, scientists say only once has a person actually been hit by space debris–when a woman in Oklahoma was brushed on the shoulder 14 years ago.