Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Target Earth as satellite falls from orbit

A grainy video still by amateur satellite watcher John Locker

Planet Earth may be struck by remnants of a US military satellite which is slowly falling from its orbit. US-193 lost power soon after its launch in December 2006 but it still has sensitive equipment on board. Though it is believed the satellite may crash into North America, the US Military say they still aren’t sure exactly where. Nor can they say when. "We're aware that this satellite is out there. We're aware it is a fairly substantial size. And we know there is at least some percentage that it could land on ground as opposed to in the water", Air Force General Gene Renuart, who heads US Northern Command, told reporters. The satellite is a approximately 4 metres long and 5 metres wide and falling at an estimated rate of 500 metres per day. At the beginning of February it was about 275 km above the Earth, but it will be difficult to assess where it might land until it passes through the atmosphere some 90 km above the surface [Sky News / BBC]. The chances of the redundant spy equipment landing on your house is extremely remote [BBC] but the US military will be concerned if it lands in ‘hostile territory’.

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