Ireland in path of satellite set to crash


IRELAND LIES within the path of a satellite set to crash to Earth later this week. The likelihood of anyone being hurt by falling debris is “very, very, very small”, according to Nasa, which owns the satellite.

The upper atmosphere research satellite went out of service six years ago and is now ready to drop out of orbit as it skims Earth’s upper atmosphere. Impact is expected any time between today and Friday, with the most likely day being tomorrow.

The big question is where exactly it will land and Nasa has no answers for this question. Its fiery re-entry will be completely uncontrolled and there is no way to determine where its 800km-long debris trail with fall.

“There is no reason for anyone to be alarmed,” spokeswoman Beth Dickey said yesterday. “These re-entries happen frequently. No one in the history of space flight has been hurt [by debris]. The odds of anyone being hurt are very, very very small.”

What is known is the range of areas where debris could fall and it is absolutely huge, starting north of Ireland but extending all the way down to Patagonia at the tip of South America.

Out-of-control satellites that fall back to Earth typically splash down at sea, mainly because there is so much more ocean than land.

There is an upside. The satellite will break up and then deliver a shower of parts that will burn up during re-entry and streak across the sky like shooting stars. “It will be an oddity, looking up at the sky,” Ms Dickey suggested.