September 19th, 2011
01:12 PM ET

Satellite expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere Friday, NASA says

A NASA satellite is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere on or around  Friday, September 23, according to NASA officials on Monday.

Re-entry of NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS, was originally expected in late September or early October 2011, almost six years after its mission was complete.

"As of Sept. 18, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 133 mi by 149 mi (215 km by 240 km). Re-entry is expected Sept. 23, plus or minus a day," NASA wrote Monday  in an update.

The satellite will break into pieces during re-entry, and not all of it will burn up in the atmosphere. The risk to public safety or property is extremely small, NASA says.

"Since the beginning of the Space Age in the late-1950s, there have been no confirmed reports of an injury resulting from re-entering space objects. Nor is there a record of significant property damage resulting from a satellite re-entry," NASA says.

UARS is 35 feet long, 15 feet in diameter, and weighs 13,000 pounds, according to the satellite's website.

NASA advises that if you find something that may be a piece of UARS, do not touch it and contact local law enforcement.

UARS was originally launched in 1991 and was decommissioned in 2005 after completing its mission. The satellite measured chemical compounds found in the ozone layer, wind and temperature in the stratosphere, and the energy input from the sun, according to NASA.

You can track the movements of UARS here.

For updates, you can follow @CNNLightYears on Twitter.

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Filed under: In Space • News
soundoff (330 Responses)
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    January 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  4. Tajammal hussain

    if i find any piece definetly i'll return it to authorities.not only should i, even everyone should do this.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  5. Embarrassed

    Wow. I had this huge misconception that I was A. Intelligent and B. Funny. Then I started reading the comments here and began to feel exceedingly dull.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  6. kristin

    If I should die from falling debris – awesome way to pop my clogs!!! Additionally, if I find a piece – I'm keeping it. I will not call a soul, but keep it as a conversation piece in my garden. Provided that it didn't split my head open upon its descent, of course.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  7. John N

    WOW........ I thought this was actually going to be news.... the link on CNN said its going to come down friday, then I read and , plus or minus 2 days.... This must be the norm for cnn to get people to read this crap!!!

    September 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  8. SPACE 2011


    September 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  9. ultra-man

    ...And if that does work,I'll try auctioning it off to a billionaire for an undisclosed price,can't say how much because of bills,bill collectors be hating,especially my baby last option,I'm hauling it to the nearest scrap yard to get paid in full like money making mitch...biaooooootch

    September 20, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  10. ultra-man

    hmmm...ok while people are looking I won't touch it,but as soon as any1 watching blinks and/or turns his/her head I'm touching it! Why give up my chance of being the worlds 1st real life super hero! I can hear people now saying,look up in the sky! It's a crow! It's a bat! will be me the black ultra-man!

    September 20, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  11. Rich

    Tony is incorrect. The ISS does have the ability to change orbit on its own. A Russian service module has thrusters but they've never been fires. NASA always has a backup plan. How else would the station dodge space debris?

    September 20, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  12. mlg

    They typicaly have reentry over the pacific ocean. They usually say it is going to enter and crash here. The satilite is entering sooner than expected and they say don't pick up pieces. It is obvious they have lost control and it is not entering on a course pre-set and going to crash on land.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  13. RANDOM

    When they say school bus do they mean the short bus?

    September 20, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  14. ome1984gen

    there is gold and platinum in some components of this satellite.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  15. jason

    Its considered Gov. property and if you touch it, you can be arrested! People were arrested for touching parts of the space shuttle. They don't play when it comes to this

    September 20, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  16. Georgia Hull

    I agree. This is a lie. Comet Elenin and it's tail is right above us now. NASA is lieing. A major meteor storm is possible any day now. Not some piece of space junk. Shame on NASA.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  17. johndoe

    Funfact.. it will fall over Mexico 😐

    September 20, 2011 at 3:57 am |
  18. Wayne Taylor

    Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite shelters are being built right now across the world. The entire cabnet of the United States administration including the President, VP , Sec of State, Defence and others are being housed on Friday within the various shelters around Washington DC.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • Georgia Hull

      Right as can be. NASA is lieing. This is a real threat from the tail of Comet Elenin. A possible huge meteor storm. Shame on NASA.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:07 am |
      • fimeilleur

        Yeah, a real threat... as seen here...

        the smaller than average comet was struck by a solar flare and was last seen (no closer than 21 million miles from the earth) gently melting to oblivion... doubtfull it will survive it's journey past the sun.

        September 20, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  19. Wzrd1

    Fascinating how many got balled up by a paginator.

    September 20, 2011 at 12:35 am |
  20. stevin

    I don't think she can do anything.....

    September 20, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Wzrd1

      Yes, she can. She can do ONE thing. Re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up partially, then 26 parts can hit the ground or ocean.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  21. stevin

    I hope i won't hit to Asia.................. and why they don't tell exact place or time will be fall?????????
    Nasa stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 20, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • Wzrd1

      YOU even MORE stupid, as YOU cannot offer a solution either!
      I honestly hope that it hits the ocean or Antarctica.
      Rather than foolishly wishing ONE region not to be struck.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:37 am |
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