America on a collision course?
A Tweet on Nasa’s official Twitter account said ‘Re-entry prediction now later than expected – tonight or late Saturday morning,’ at just before noon Eastern Time.
It was the first sign that Nasa’s earlier prediction of a landing late this afternoon was wrong. A second update said, ‘predicted re-entry moving later.’
The official Nasa site reveals that the satellite’s orientation has changed during its plunge – and that its rate of descent was ‘changing’, making it difficult for Nasa computers to predict the time or place of landing.
The space agency said, ‘There is now a low probability debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States.’ Nasa says there is a one in 3,200 chance the falling space vehicle will hit someone.
The six-ton craft is being tracked by all available equipment including a giant radar at RAF Fylingdales on the North York Moors on its path towards our planet.
Nasa admits that it cannot predict the time or place of re-entry with any certainty – ‘but predictions will become more refined in the next 12 to 18 hours.’
A period of ’12 to 18 hours’ seems unnervingly close to when the huge Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) will break up on entering the Earth’s atmosphere, throwing chunks of metal weighing up to 350lb across hundreds of miles.
NASA said it will only know two hours before impact where it will land – and even that prediction will only be accurate to the nearest 6,000 miles. source – Daily Mail UK