A defunct satellite called Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS is due to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere sometime in late September or early October when it will be destroyed as it burns up in the earth’s atmosphere.
Not all of the satellite will be destroyed, and some pieces will come crashing down to earth in a 500 mile swath of debris.
“The orbital track and re-entry location are going to be more refined as the days pass,” NASA spokeswoman Beth Dickey said.
NASA spent $750 million on UARS to find that chlorine in the atmosphere, originating from human-produced chlorofluorocarbons, is at the root of the polar ozone hole, providing evidence that the ozone layer of earth’s atmosphere was being depleted. The satellite stopped working in 2005.
The Joint Space Operations Center of the U.S. Strategic Command at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base is monitoring UARS’ status around the clock, NASA said.
NASA warns the public not to touch any pieces of the satellite that fall back to earth.
“If there is something you think may be a piece of UARS, do not touch it,” NASA said. “Contact a local law-enforcement official for assistance.”
“Since the beginning of the Space Age in the late 1950s, there have been no confirmed reports of an injury resulting fromre-entering space objects,” NASA said. “Nor is there a record of significant property damage resulting from a satellite re-entry.”
You can learn more about the satellite during an 11AM teleconference Friday.
Alan Boyle of MSNBC contributed to this article