Satellite Watch: Crash Expected Late Friday or Saturday

A new NASA update expects re-entry late tonight or tomorrow morning

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Try as we might, we can't stop paying attention to that hurtling hunk of an old satellite that's expected to crash down somewhere on Earth soon. And by soon we mean that NASA has just updated landing ETA of the ghostly-looking Upper Atmosphere Research satellite to either late Friday afternoon or early Saturday morning Eastern time. It's still not expected to hit North America and, even if it did, data-crunchers have speculated that you'll personally have something like a 1 in 22 trillion chance of actually being pummeled by a piece of space debris (although the chances "someone" will get hit are a bit higher). Here's the full NASA update:

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2011, the orbit of UARS [Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite] was 100 miles by 105 miles (160 km by 170 km). Re-entry is expected late Friday, Sept. 23, or early Saturday, Sept. 24, Eastern Daylight Time. Solar activity is no longer the major factor in the satellite’s rate of descent. The satellite’s orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent. There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States, but the possibility cannot be discounted because of this changing rate of descent. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 12 to 18 hours
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