NASA To Discuss Impending UARS Reentry

NASA To Discuss Impending UARS Reentry

NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is expected to reenter the atmosphere soon. With all the concern these days about space debris cluttering Earth orbit, it should be good news to know that a big piece is about to reenter, but whether parts of it might survive reentry and reach the ground apparently is a bigger concern.

UARS was launched in 1991 via the space shuttle and provided data on chemical components of the atmosphere and data on the amount of light from the Sun in the ultraviolet and visible wavelengths until 2005. Now the satellite is expected to make an uncontrolled reentry late this month or in early October.

NASA will hold a media teleconference on Friday, September 9, at 11:00 am EDT to discuss the reentry. The satellite is 35 feet long, 15 feet in diameter, and weighs 5.7 metric tons. It’s operational orbit was at 375 miles inclined at 57 degrees to the equator, the same inclination as the International Space Station.

The spacecraft poses a hazard in space, too. Last year, the space station had to maneuvered out of the way of a fragment that separated from it according to NASA’s Orbital Debris Quarterly. Why that fragment and several others separated from UARS is unknown.

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