UPDATE: a later statement from NASA below says N. Pacific off the U.S. West coast, teleconference scheduled. See below.
NASA confirms that the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) has entered Earth’s atmosphere and burned/broken up. Some Twitter reports say debris was seen over eastern Canada, but unconfirmed as of this writing. No video or photos of re-entry yet. This just in from Spaceflightnow.com
0720 GMT (3:20 a.m. EDT)
RE-ENTRY CONFIRMED. The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, launched from the shuttle Discovery in 1991 to begin a new era of studying the Earth’s environment from space, has fallen from orbit.
But NASA still doesn’t know exactly when or where the re-entry happened.
“NASA’s decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell back to Earth between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23 and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24. The satellite was passing eastward over Canada and Africa as well as vast portions of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans during that period. The precise re-entry time and location are not yet known with certainty,” the space agency says.
Natural processes caused the large spacecraft’s orbital altitude to gradually lower over time, finally tumbling into the atmosphere today where it burned up. It had spent 7,316 days in space.
NASA expected 26 fragments of the satellite would survive the superhot re-entry and hit the ground, such as titanium fuel tanks, antenna structures and beryllium brackets. The combined mass of the pieces was predicted to be 1,173 pounds (532 kg).
Authorities urge anyone finding the satellite pieces to avoid touching the objects and contact local officials.
Twitter went crazy with all sorts of junk and fake reports tonight, I thought this was was the most troubling/amusing:
UPDATE: Statement from NASA
NASA’s decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell back to Earth between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23 and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24. The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California said the satellite entered the atmosphere over the North Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of the United States. The precise re-entry time and location of any debris impacts are still being determined. NASA is not aware of any reports of injury or property damage.
This is your source for official information on the re-entry of UARS. All information posted here has been verified with a government agency or law enforcement.
NASA will conduct a media telecon at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the re-entry. The telecon will be streamed live at www.nasa.gov/newsaudio.
UPDATE2: From the NASA teleconference via spaceflightnow.com
Nick Johnson, chief scientist with NASA’s Orbital Debris Program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, says the space agency has received “no credible” reports of observers seeing the UARS re-entry. Officials think the satellite most likely fell into atmosphere over the open Pacific Ocean around 12 a.m. EDT (0400 GMT) and the surviving debris would have landed in the sea before reaching North America.