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UARS reenters
Posted: Sat, Sep 24, 2011, 9:36 AM ET (1336 GMT)
UARS illustration (NASA) A NASA spacecraft launched 20 years ago reentered late Friday night, although the exact reentry locations was unknown as of Saturday morning. The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) reentered some time between 11:23 pm EDT Friday and 1:09 am EDT Saturday (0323 and 0509 GMT Saturday), according to a statement issued by NASA in the early morning hours on Saturday. The space agency, quoting Air Force officials, said the spacecraft "penetrated" the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, but the exact reentry location, as well as the location of any debris that may have reached the surface, was not known as of Saturday morning. The spacecraft, launched in 1991 and decommissioned in 2005, had been in a slowly decaying orbit, and NASA had predicted a reentry for late September for some time, refining the time in the weeks and days leading up to the reentry. The UARS reentry sparked concerne because about two dozen pieces of the spacecraft, with a combined mass of several hundred kilograms, were expected to reach the ground, although NASA predicted it was unlikely the debris would cause any damage or injury to people and property on the ground.
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