If you have been following the news about space over the past 5 days, you may have heard about this gigantic 6.5-ton satellite dedicated to the study of our Earth atmosphere (UARS for Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) that is supposed deorbit tonight on September 24 2011 UT. The question we all have in mind is where and when this spectacular event will happen.
Various space organizations around the world (SpaceTrack, FFRDC, & CNES) have dedicated teams to follow the orbit of the spacecraft and predict with accuracy when and where the reentry will happen.
UARS is an old satellite, launched on Sept. 12 1991, aboard the space shuttle mission STS-48. It was the first multi-instrumented satellite to observe chemical components of the atmosphere of our planet. It ceased its scientific life in 2005 and was since then orbiting around Earth. Due to its low altitude and the dragging of our atmosphere it ha been losing altitude and numerical models from various institutions predict that it will reentry in Earth atmosphere quite soon.
Thierry Legault, an astrophotographer, imaged the satellite on September 15 from Dunkerque in the North of France (see the video below). His observations showed that the ...