Crash satellite has passed over Portsmouth

24/09/11   SB''Royal Marines Museum 1940's weekend. Pictured is the Civvies and Forces fashion show models L-R Joanne Collins  33, Tracy Taulbut 34 , Gemma Murray 22 wearing  'Andrea's Vintage' dresses''Picture: Paul Jacobs (113397-7)
24/09/11 SB''Royal Marines Museum 1940's weekend. Pictured is the Civvies and Forces fashion show models L-R Joanne Collins 33, Tracy Taulbut 34 , Gemma Murray 22 wearing 'Andrea's Vintage' dresses''Picture: Paul Jacobs (113397-7)

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THE satellite that is on its journey to crash into earth is currently flying over the UK every two hours - and was over Portsmouth at 3.14am today.

That is according to amateur astronomer Alan Gordon, who surveys the skies from his home in Baffins.

24/09/11   SB''Royal Marines Museum 1940's weekend. Pictured is Lewis Hopkins 10 with Sgt Philip Camp 30 , serving Royal Marine with a Vickers machine gun''Picture: Paul Jacobs (113397-15)

24/09/11 SB''Royal Marines Museum 1940's weekend. Pictured is Lewis Hopkins 10 with Sgt Philip Camp 30 , serving Royal Marine with a Vickers machine gun''Picture: Paul Jacobs (113397-15)

The US space agency Nasa predicts the UARS satellite, which roughly the size of a bus, will come down between 11pm tonight and 3am tomorrow.

Most of the satellite will burn up on re-entry, but some of its heaviest parts, such as the fuel tanks and batteries, could survive.

It is unlikely the satellite will hit anyone - Nasa puts the probability at a one in 3,200 chance, but that number, multiplied by the billions that live under the satellite’s flight path, means the probability of a particular individual being hit is more like one in 20 trillion.

As for the satellite’s eventual crash site, the only guarantees Nasa can give is that it won’t come down at either the north or south poles.

Current thinking is that it will come down somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, but scientists won’t be able to tell for sure until it begins its re-entry.

Mr Gordon said: ‘It is currently in orbit over the UK, passing over us every two hours or so. It’s travelling at 17,000 miles an hour, still whizzing around the Earth.

‘It last passed over Portsmouth at 3.14am.’

Mr Gordon has got the information about the UARS satellite through a variety of websites, including one called heavens-above.com.

It enables astronomers to track the orbits of satellites and predict where they might come down.

UARS is a a satellite launched by the Discovery space shuttle in 1991 to study the ozone layer.

It was decommissioned by Nasa in 2005, and was not due to re-enter the Earth’s orbit so soon - scientists say our planet’s atmosphere is expanding, and that is affecting the time it takes satellites to begin their descent back to Earth.