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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Falling satellite caught on camera

An amateur astronomer has recorded images of the six-tonne, 20-year-old NASA satellite UARS that is falling to earth, and is expected to hit the planet on Friday. Check out the video.

Thierry Legault, from Paris, captured the video as the satellite passed over northern France on 15 September,
reports the BBC.

The US space agency says the risk to life from the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is 1 in 3,200.

Legault, an engineer, used a specially designed camera to record the tumbling satellite through his 14-inch telescope, and posted the footage on his Astrophotography website.

UARS could land anywhere between 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south of the equator – where much of the populated world lies.

Nasa says that most of the satellite will break or burn up before reaching Earth.

But scientists have identified 26 separate pieces that could survive the fall through the atmosphere. This debris could rain across an area 400-500km (250-310 miles) wide.

NASA said scientists would only be able to make more accurate predictions about where the satellite might land two hours before it enters the Earth''s atmosphere.

The US satellite was deployed in 1991 to study the make-up of Earth's atmosphere, particularly its protective ozone layer.

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