Sunday, September 25, 2011

Satellite Likely in Ocean, But May Have Hit NW United States

Posted By on Sun, Sep 25, 2011 at 4:46 PM

There's a remote chance that pieces of a massive NASA satellite crashed into Idaho or northwestern portions of North America, but given that scientists still don't know where it hit, it's as good a chance as any.

Officials said Sunday that if their estimates were off, even by only five minutes, fiery pieces could have smashed into areas such as Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Alberta or Saskatchewan.

"Pieces were falling off of this flaming fireball, and some of it has enough momentum to go hundreds of miles," said Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

No injuries or damage were reported on land, which led some NASA officials to say it was a good indication that the satellite went into the ocean.

"But we don't know where the re-entry point exactly was," said Nick Johnson, NASA's chief scientist for orbital debris.

Some 26 pieces of the satellite representing 1,200 pounds of heavy metal had been expected to rain down somewhere.

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