It’s Raining Satellites

It’s raining satellites!  Well, at least parts of satellites.  Over the weekend, an out-of-service NASA weather satellite broke apart and rained down on the Earth.  Experts believe the space junk touched down in the Pacific Ocean, but cannot say where exactly.  Luckily, no injures have been reported.

The source of this metallic precipitation was an Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) that was launched in 1991 to study the chemical composition of the atmosphere and the amount of UV light coming from the sun.  It was decommissioned in 2005.

It is rather poetically ironic that experts had a difficult time forecasting exactly when and where the weather satellite would fall.  The best estimate was somewhere between 57 degrees north latitude and 57 degrees south latitude… a huge section of the planet … with a debris field some 500 miles long.  The behavior of the falling satellite was uncontrolled and unpredictable.  A fitting final tribute, I think, to the chaos inherent to the weather that the satellite monitored.

UARS

Image Credit: NASA

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About Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming is an environmental communicator and visual artist working at the intersection of art and science. She is passionate about exploring, learning, and sharing information about the natural world. She has presented her interdisciplinary work in a variety of mediums at venues and conferences around the world.