NASA satellite falling towards Earth - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

NASA satellite falling towards Earth

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A 12,000 pound satellite is expected to break apart and fall back to Earth. NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS, ended it's scientific life in 2005. Now it's out of fuel and NASA can no longer control it.

The UARS is expected to break into more than 20 pieces before it falls in late September or early October. While much of the satellite is should burn up on re-entry, it is likely as much as 12,000 pounds of material will survive the fall. However, officials say there's only one chance in 3,200 that anyone will be hit.

"Things have been re-entering ever since the dawn of the Space Age; to date nobody has been injured by anything that's re-entered," said NASA orbital debris chief Gene Stansbery. "That doesn't mean we're not concerned."

It too early to tell just where the debris will land. NASA says it could hit the ground anywhere in the six inhabited continents from south of Juneau, Alaska, to just north of the tip of South America. Estimates put the expected debris field around 500 miles long.

If you find a part of UARS, NASA says do not touch it.

"It's still the property of the United States government," says Nick Johnson of NASA, "and no, you don't have the luxury of trying to sell it on eBay."

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