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NASA's UARS satellite makes final impact


September 24, 2011

The US$750 million UARS satellite is the largest NASA satellite to make an uncontrolled dive back to Earth since 1979 (Image: NASA)

The US$750 million UARS satellite is the largest NASA satellite to make an uncontrolled dive back to Earth since 1979 (Image: NASA)

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If you've been looking to the skies in the hope of catching a glimpse of the doomed UARS satellite before it plummeted to the Earth's surface ... you missed it. NASA is now reporting that the decommissioned satellite fell back to Earth sometime between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23 and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24, making its final dive eastwards over Canada, Africa and finally crashing in the Pacific Ocean.

The exact location of the crash has not been officially determined but there are reports that some debris made landfall near Calgary in Canada. NASA says that it is not aware of any reports of injury or property damage.

During its last hours of decent UARS slowed down and changed trajectory, placing parts of Canada, the USA and Australia on alert for a possible impact zones. Solar activity and the tumbling motion of the satellite slowed down the satellite as it headed for final impact.

It was anticipated that 26 large fragments of the UARS satellite would actually fall to Earth, altogether weighing about 1,170 pounds/532 kg (the largest weighing 300 pounds/150 kg). The "debris footprint" is estimated to be about 500 miles (800 km) long.

The US$750 million Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is the largest NASA satellite to make an uncontrolled dive back to Earth since 1979. Needless to say, any remains of the satellite will be very tough to find, but it is not a case of finder's keepers for any would-be treasure hunters - the debris continues to remain the property of NASA.

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

Biggest thing to come down since 1979. Why not just say the biggest since Skylab? I remember they had a chunk of it displayed at the 1979 Miss America pageant.

Gregg Eshelman

And just how is NASA going to enforce it\'s claim on pieces?

Jeremiah Jordan-Fields

Property of NASA? NASA has been full of scat for decades. How about they don\'t get sued for endangering people on the ground (and in the air) with their WRONG\" predictions about where the debris will land and the fact that the thing came down in one large piece (intact) in the first place...

Finders keepers boys. Rocket scientists, my hat.


Derelict and crashed maritime salvage law would say finders keepers.


If that things landed in my back yard, it would be exhibit #1 in my court case against NASA for reckless endagerment of human life, damage to private property and punitive damages for their inability to control space garbage.

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