Mysterious space object heading towards SL sea: Report

27 October 2015 09:24 am - 32     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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A mysterious chunk of space debris will hit Earth off the coast of Sri Lanka on November 13, Russia Today news channel said. Scientists have no clear idea what it is, other than that it is likely artificial in origin, and have dubbed the object WT1190F.

The object, dubbed WTF1190F, is set to land in the Indian Ocean, around 40 miles (65km) off the southern tip of Sri Lanka, at 6:20 UTC.

It measures up to 7ft (2 metres) long and it could be a piece of rocket stage from a recent lunar mission, or even part of an Apollo program craft that has been in space for more than 40 years.

“It’s a lost piece of space history that’s come back to haunt us,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has told Nature.

Detected by the Catalina Sky Survey, an observation lab at the University of Tucson, the alleged piece of space debris initially puzzled observers. But astronomers then went back through the lab’s past images from telescopes, and noticed that it had been present at least since 2012.

From then on they calculated the orbit of the object, which has been circling the Earth at a longer orbit than the Moon, and deduced that the piece of cosmic refuse was likely placed there by man.

“To fit the solar radiation pressure effects on its orbit you need to assume a high area-to-mass ratio – implying the thing is hollow, like an empty rocket stage would be,” McDowell told Popular Mechanics.

“So it has the right size and properties, and it is in an orbit which would be surprising for a natural object (whizzing around the Earth-Moon system) but where we know there are a bunch of pieces of space junk.”



Astrophysicists believe that the object could even be a memento of the Apollo missions that took US astronauts to the moon. But scientists may never discover for sure: WT1190F’s re-entry into the atmosphere would likely burn up most of the debris, before dumping it in an extremely remote spot.

“It's coming in fast and will get very hot – it’s possible a few dense parts of say a rocket engine will survive to impact the ocean,” said McDowell of its potential disintegration, before warning that he “would not necessarily want to be going fishing directly underneath it.”

But scientists are also using the arrival of WT1190F to simulate a different situation – that of an asteroid or a large projectile hurtling towards Earth. Alerts will be raised, and multiple labs will track the debris in real-time, though there will be no need to warn the military, or send Bruce Willis into space.

“What we planned to do seems to work. But it’s still three weeks to go,” Gerhard Drolshagen, who manages the European Space Agency’s near-Earth objects office, told Nature.

Although this is the first instance of a piece of space debris being tracked as it returns to Earth, WT1190F is not a one-off. Among all recognized space junk, there are 86 unknown objects crossing the lunar orbit, mostly lunar probes, or parts of rockets.

There are also dozens of others floating uncontrollably in outer space, of which McDowell says about 20 are being observed from Earth. These will likely outlast most objects on Earth, and would possibly be the first harbinger of our civilization to be witnessed by any other species in our universe. (RT & Daily Mail)

 
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  Comments - 32

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  • saman Tuesday, 27 October 2015 03:05 PM

    WTF1190F...???? WTF

    Napoleon Solo Monday, 02 November 2015 08:32 AM

    Now we know why Mattala airport was built

    Dee Tuesday, 27 October 2015 03:43 PM

    Who knows? Wimal is also overseas. May have plans of returning with a bang!

    Prick Monday, 02 November 2015 08:34 AM

    What went up never came down

    dham Tuesday, 27 October 2015 03:57 PM

    All dubris now landed to sourthern SL magantota. via DM Android App

    Aakash Tuesday, 27 October 2015 04:05 PM

    i know right ;)

    Redscarf Tuesday, 27 October 2015 04:25 PM

    Another international conspiracy lol... Space based weapons guiding space junk at selected targets maybe haha..jokes aside hope it lands in the sea and not in any populated area.

    Aruna Wednesday, 28 October 2015 08:23 AM

    What goes up comes down...

    Top Cat Wednesday, 28 October 2015 08:47 AM

    And, those also we are chopping down!!

    Sapu Tuesday, 27 October 2015 04:52 PM

    Its falling to the South? Not surprised

    ANTON Tuesday, 27 October 2015 05:45 PM

    PARLIAMENTARIANS HAVE NO PROBLEMS, THEY HAVE BUNKERS UNDER THE TEMPLE TREES. WE HAVE ONLY THE PROTECTION FROM COCONUT TREES.

    ANTON Tuesday, 27 October 2015 05:46 PM

    FROM KELANIYA SIDE ......... " ADO GAL GAHUWATA API BAYAWENNEY NAA HARIDA ?"

    saman Wednesday, 28 October 2015 09:40 AM

    Oh My God..... Alines are sending us a probe! This day an age, even the aliens want to probe what is going on in SL!

    IRS Tuesday, 27 October 2015 05:53 PM

    Foreign Conspiracy!@!@

    Brozero Wednesday, 28 October 2015 04:12 PM

    Hey its close to Hambantota, cant someone divert it to Carlton House?

    SL Citizen Tuesday, 27 October 2015 06:15 PM

    I think this is another International conspiracy. Probably the the diaspora has planned this to be landed on Madamula Area.....!!!

    dsk Friday, 13 November 2015 11:13 AM

    will it land on the Avant Garde ship? that way it will solve a big headache for the Government and Opposition. Only thing left would be to make the file disappear :p

    Prince Tuesday, 27 October 2015 06:27 PM

    Can NASA divert it to a Certain Building located in Sri Jayawardanapura, Kotte? it will help for all Sri Lankans.

    CHICHCHIYA Tuesday, 27 October 2015 06:35 PM

    RO Baby ge chandrikawa wenna athi.

    Rocket Rohitha Tuesday, 27 October 2015 07:06 PM

    Hey!!! is that my Rocket?

    Sincere Tuesday, 27 October 2015 07:26 PM

    Will it land at Mattala or Hambantota port? Then it will be big news and many people will go there!

    Qatar Wednesday, 28 October 2015 11:09 AM

    I new there has to be a reason behind MR building a bunker inside temple trees. It make sense now..

    OMG Tuesday, 27 October 2015 07:59 PM

    WTF?

    kumara Tuesday, 27 October 2015 08:16 PM

    oh man! its too close to hambanthota.. LOL

    Goliwog Tuesday, 27 October 2015 08:26 PM

    It was junk from China and India. Now junk from the cosmos.

    dissa Tuesday, 27 October 2015 08:36 PM

    south is it to Hambanthiota sataka area via DM Android App

    jeez Tuesday, 27 October 2015 08:33 PM

    Airport for storing paddy

    Giabao Tuesday, 27 October 2015 09:13 PM

    hurry up and build a big bunker in matara .....................

    MP - WW Wednesday, 28 October 2015 12:07 PM

    Agreed but there should be MPS there on that day.. Me WW will not be there along with my 3 partners. We come first before the Country

    Oma Yang Wednesday, 28 October 2015 12:18 PM

    Deep Impact Deep South...Send the Space Cowboy Chichi to rescue us. Or was it one of his hora missions gone wrong.

    KK Tuesday, 27 October 2015 10:15 PM

    Gammanpilla : this is all because of "yahapalanaya".

    Duminda Wednesday, 28 October 2015 07:18 PM

    YEAH! ANOTHER GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO START ANOTHER LEMON PUFF FASTING IN FRONT OF UNITED NATION HQ!!! PLEASE GO BOY DO IT ONE MORE TIME!!!


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