Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tonnes of satellite space junk to pelt earth on weekend

Look out for a six-tonne satellite plummeting from the sky this weekend.

NASA scientists are doing their best to predict exactly when and where it will fall.

For now, they believe the earliest it will hit is Friday (NZ time), while the latest is Sunday.

Scientists put the odds of it hitting someone at 1-in-3200.

Over the years, space debris has fallen into the ocean or empty spaces.

If you do come across what you think may be a satellite piece, NASA doesn't want you to pick it up.

Or sell it on eBay.

As US government-owned property, it should be returned to its rightful owner – by being reported to police.

The 20-year-old research satellite is expected to break into more than 100 pieces as it enters the atmosphere, most of it burning up, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Twenty-six of the heaviest metal parts are expected to reach Earth, the biggest chunk weighing about 136 kilograms. The debris could be scattered over an area about 800 kilometres long.

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