Tags: wt1190f | space | junk | earth

'WT1190F' Space Junk Hurtling Toward Crash Landing on Earth

Image: 'WT1190F' Space Junk Hurtling Toward Crash Landing on Earth
This ball of twisted metal was reported to be space junk that fell on a farm in Australia in 2008. (REUTERS/James Stirton/Handout)

By    |   Wednesday, 28 Oct 2015 08:18 AM

"WT1190F," the given name of some space junk, is hurtling toward Earth for a Nov. 13 crash down, possibly in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka.

The object measures about one or two meters in size and has a low density, according to the journal Nature. Researchers believe it could be a spent rocket stage or something possibly dating back to the Apollo launches.

"(It is) a lost piece of space history that's come back to haunt us," Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told Nature.

One object orbiting Earth in 2002 was found to be an old segment of the Saturn V rocket that was part of the second manned mission to the Moon.

"Amazingly, if scientists do figure out that this thing was made by us and launched into space only to get separated and lost for several years, it will be the first known instance of our own space trash returning home," said Space Alert.com.

While much of the object will burn up in the Earth's atmosphere, Bill Gray, an astronomy-software developer who has been tracking the debris, told Nature "I would not necessarily want to be going fishing directly underneath it."

The European Space Agency's Space Situational Awareness Program said in a statement that the object was found by the Catalina Sky Survey in 2013 and has been spotted on several other occasions by the same team.

The program had been sharing data about the object with the United States' Minor Planet Center, according to ESA. Researchers there said watching the object could be a benefit.

"The expected … reentry of what is likely to be a rocket body poses very little risk to anyone but could help scientists improve our understanding of how any object – man-made or natural – interacts with Earth’s atmosphere," said a statement from Space Situational Awareness program.

"Observing and studying the reentry will help improve orbital models and reentry prediction tools, and can be used by scientists studying near-Earth objects, such as natural asteroids, or the orbital decay of artificial objects such as satellites," the statement continued.


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WT1190F, the given name of some space junk, is hurtling toward Earth for a Nov. 13 crash down, possibly in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka.
wt1190f, space, junk, earth
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2015-18-28
Wednesday, 28 Oct 2015 08:18 AM
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