LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The sky won’t be falling after all — at least not on us here in Southern California.
A U.S. research satellite scheduled for reentry into Earth’s atmosphere will not pose a threat to the West Coast or the rest of North America, officials at NASA said Thursday.
While the agency still has yet to determine where the school-bus size Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) will eventually crash, any threat to the continental U.S. is now “off the table”, Tariq Malik with Space.com told KNX 1070.
The impact estimate time for Friday afternoon is for Eastern Daylight Time, so the actual crash of pieces from the 6.5-ton UARS could hit earlier or later than that in other parts of the world.
“If it’s over somewhere that’s populated — like if it’s over Russia or some other populated region where it’s going to be nighttime — they could be in for a great light show,” said Malik. “This is a large satellite that’s going to spend several minutes burning up in the atmosphere.”
Wherever the craft does eventually burn up, the spectacular sight is expected to be visible over a 500-mile swath of the Earth’s surface.
NASA probably won’t try to recover the satellite, Malik said, but as for now, the agency is still trying to determine its exact target.
“The odds are still fairly remote that it’s going to hit a person,” he said. “I think it would not be imprudent to just keep your eye on the sky tomorrow afternoon.”