LOS ANGELES (CBS) — One of NASA’s six-ton satellites is expected to fall to earth later this week.
NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS, was launched from a space shuttle in 1991.
The satellite is expected to re-enter earth’s atmosphere sometime Friday afternoon, but scientists are having trouble determining where it’s headed.
“At this point, it’s really too hard to tell,” Michael Duncan of the Vandenburg Air Force Base told CBS2. “When we create these orbits, they’re only accurate to a certain period of time, and when you’re talking about being off by 15 minutes, it can relate to a 5,000- to 7,000 -mile-footprint difference.”
UARS will likely come down into an ocean. NASA says the chance of it hitting a person is 1 in 3,200, far better than winning a lottery, but much more painful.
While the satellite will fall apart upon re-entering earth’s atmosphere, some pieces are expected to be several hundred pounds.