An approximately two meter long piece of space debris is set to return to Earth in the next week or so. Popularly dubbed “WTF,” a shortened version of its designation of WT1190F, the object is thought to likely be a piece of a spent rocket or perhaps a piece of one of the lunar space crafts from NASA.
Astronomers working on the Catalina Sky Survey noticed WTF first on October 3, but figured out that it wasn’t the first time the bit of space junk had been seen, as it is the same one seen twice in 2013. The space debris will return to Earth on or about November 13 at about 1:20 AM Eastern Standard Time and will land somewhere in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka’s southern coast, according to the computer model of the item’s trajectory and path.
Space debris not expected to be a threat
The European Space Agency (ESP) has information on its Near Earth Objects Coordination Center website about the piece of space junk, but says it isn’t big enough to cause any sort of threat to the area. However, they say when the space debris returns it could still put on a show because it will show up very brightly in the sky when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere.
Currently, the item is circling the Earth in an egg shaped orbit stretching a distance of twice the way to the Earth’s moon. Scientists hope to be able to use the tracking of the WTF to figure out exactly where it came from and see if it indeed came from one of the previous lunar missions.
Space junk gives chance to test readiness for future events
Scientists added that they also hope to use the information they have collected from the piece of space debris to test the Earth’s readiness for other items that could enter the Earth’s atmosphere, such as asteroids or other space items. There are campaigns in place to see how well they are able to track the item as it heads towards its expected ending in the Indian Ocean.
Scientists are not sure whether there will be anything left after the space debris returns to Earth on or about November 13, because it could possibly entirely burn up, leaving nothing to fall into the ocean, says scientists from the ESA Space Debris Office, located in Germany. #News