Dead NASA Satellite Found in Pacific

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011  |  Updated 11:54 AM EDT
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Last Mission

ASSOCIATED PRESS

In this image provided by NASA. This is the STS-48 onboard photo of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) in the grasp of the RMS (Remote Manipulator System) during deployment, from the shuttle in September 1991. The satellite is 35 feet long, 15 feet in diameter, weighs 13,000 pounds. (AP Photo/NASA)

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Pieces of a dead satellite that crashed to Earth Saturday have finally been found, but nowhere close to civilization.

The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, which spent years sending data to NASA’s Goddard Center in Greenbelt, ended up “about as far away from large land masses as you can get,” NASA officials told the AP.

About two dozen pieces of the satellite landed in the south Pacific, scattered over about 500 miles. The closest the debris came to land was Christmas Island, about 300 miles from the crash site.

Researchers said before the satellite entered the Earth’s atmosphere that there was a 1-in-3,200 chance of the satellite actually hitting someone.

That prediction was largely based on the fact that NASA officials didn’t know where the space junk would fall. They said their best estimate would be somewhere between latitudes 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south, which happens to encompass most of the inhabited world.

That seemingly leaves Oklahoma resident Lottie Williams as the only person on record to have been hit by space junk. Officials believe a piece of the Delta II rocket struck her shoulder in 1997.
 

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